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Young people hardest-hit as NWT employment rate tanks

A graph shows the NWT's employment rate between June 2019 and May 2020
A graph shows the NWT's employment rate between June 2019 and May 2020.

The NWT’s employment rate remained at a record low level as new figures showed young people are being disproportionately affected by a lack of work.

New figures from the NWT Bureau of Statistics show the territory’s employment rate dropped slightly to 62.2 percent in May – the lowest since the bureau began collecting such data in 2001.

The employment rate is the percentage of NWT residents aged 15 or over who are in work.

Among youth aged 15 to 24, the employment rate has cratered from 46 percent to 31 percent in the space of the past year.



The bureau said that figure “may reflect low employment levels of summer students this year,” though the results come from a three-month moving average, meaning data from March, April, and May is taken into account.

Overall, there are 900 fewer NWT residents in work than at the same time in 2019.

The bureau said 800 jobs had been lost year-on-year in the information, culture, and recreation sector, alongside 400 lost jobs in health care and social assistance, 300 in transportation and warehousing, and 300 in finance, insurance, real estate, and leasing. Some of those losses were offset by gains in other industries.

The NWT’s employment rate has not fallen significantly during the pandemic, suggesting the underlying factors behind the figures can’t be attributed solely to Covid-19.

By January, the employment rate was already 63.2 percent – at the time, a record low. That figure rose to 63.6 percent by March but subsequently sank by a percentage point as the pandemic took hold.

The territory’s employment rate remains healthier than the national rate, which is 54.1 percent.