Getting to the bottom of Toronto’s mixed jobs news

There’s been a lot of talk in the past couple of weeks about what last month’s disappointing employment numbers—the Canadian economy lost 45,900 jobs in December, 39,000 of them in Ontario—means for our country, and especially for Toronto, which was particularly hard hit.

With an unemployment rate that jumped to 10.1 percent, Toronto now has higher unemployment than any major Canadian city except  St. Catharines—and higher than any province except P.E.I. and Newfoundland. (The Toronto metropolitan area sits lower, at 7.7 percent—below the national average, but higher than most other urban areas.)

From all the news, views and data released in the past few weeks, two big points from the data jumped out at us:

It’s even harder for youth and newcomers
In December, the youth unemployment rate in the Toronto metropolitan area was 15.4 percent, nearly the highest in Canada.

For newcomers, the numbers are worse. The December unemployment rate for newcomers who have been in Canada for five years or less was 15.2 percent—again, nearly the highest of any city in the country.

Despite rising unemployment, Toronto’s job creation is still outpacing the national average

So why the higher unemployment? The data, says an economist quoted last week by the Toronto Star, is “sending mixed signals.” Indeed, Mayor Rob Ford said last week that “more people are employed in this city…than three years ago,” which is true. But even more working-age people have moved here in that time. We’re outpacing the national average in job creation, but even more in population growth, driven largely by immigration.

The past couple of weeks have seen all sorts of ideas bandied about for solutions to Toronto’s employment troubles, from raising the minimum wage to improving employment supports for newcomers.

So what do you think Toronto needs to do to create more and better jobs–especially for newcomers and young people? Share your thoughts in the comments.