Job disparity

A view of Prince Albert. Photo: Bradley Ruszkowski.

Data shows unemployment rates for Indigenous people significantly higher than non-Indigenous population

Recently released data from Statistics Canada shows a striking disparity in unemployment rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Prince Albert and in Saskatchewan.

The national statistics agency released its last batch of census data Wednesday, including information about education, labour and commuting times.

Various tables break down the data by several factors. But one table in general has some observers sounding the alarm.

According to the data, the unemployment rate for Indigenous people in Prince Albert was 16.4 per cent, more than 10 points higher than the 6.1 per cent rate among the non-Indigenous population.

To be considered unemployed, a person must not be working but be actively searching for a job. People who are not looking for work, or people who are seeking full-time employment while working part time don’t count as unemployed.

Unemployment rates for Indigenous Prince Albertans are higher than their non-Indigenous counterparts across the board, no matter the level of education obtained.

For example, the unemployment rate for Indigenous people without a high school diploma is 29 per cent, while it’s 10.6 per cent among the non-Indigenous population.

For Indigenous people in P.A., the unemployment rates for people with some form of apprenticeship or certificate, college diplomas and university degrees are 15.5 per cent, 9.8 per cent, and 10 per cent respectively.

For non-Indigenous people, those rates fall to 7.6 per cent, 4.5 per cent and 2.9 per cent.

The problem also appears to be worse for younger people. In Prince Albert, 17.9 per cent of Indigenous people between the ages of 25 and 34 are looking for work, as compared to 6.6 per cent of their non-Indigenous peers.

In older age groups, though, the disparity decreases.

Yet, somehow Prince Albert’s Indigenous unemployment numbers are actually better than the provincial numbers.

The overall unemployment rate for Indigenous people in Saskatchewan is 18.6 per cent. For non-Indigenous people, the provincial rate is 5.6 per cent.

Among the 25-34 age group, the non-Indigenous unemployment rate is 6.2 per cent provincially, as compared to the 21.9 per cent rate among the provincial, Indigenous 25-34 population.

Some groups are taking notice.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) put out a press release Thursday titled “time to address Aboriginal inequality and employment.”

The release is a reference to a recent report from CUPE detailing the difference in unemployment rates. The report also found that Indigenous people in Saskatchewan make significantly less money on average than non-Indigenous people.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), referenced the CUPE report, but indicated it’s not yet prepared to comment on the data. The federation said a statement will be released in the coming days.

For its part, the province highlighted the work that is going on presently to ensure the employment of Indigenous people.

“The Government of Saskatchewan is working in many ways to ensure First Nations and Métis people are fully engaged in the economy,” an emailed statement read.

For more on this story, please see the Dec. 2 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.