Students feel effects of economic downturn: StatsCan

MONTREAL (CUP) — More than half of post-secondary students were unable to hold or find a job during last year’s recession.

A Sept. 29 Statistics Canada report found that during the 2009-2010 school year only 45 per cent of students — approximately 542,000 people aged 15-24 — were employed while studying. The 45 per cent is down from 2007-2008, when 48 per cent of students were holding jobs during that year.

StatsCan also reported that between 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 the number of employed post-secondary students fell by 30,000, highlighting the effects of the economic downturn.

The labour market of 2009-2010 was also the worst year for post-secondary students aged 20 to 24 since the recessions of 1982 and 1993.

However, there was some good to be found amid all the bad. According to the report, today’s employment rates are well above those reported during the ‘70s, which were determined to be approximately 25 per cent.

The drastic increase comes as a surprise to Concordia University’s Student Success Centre, which often sees students trying to hold jobs and balance their academic work.

“A lot to the times people won’t explicitly complain about work and school,” explained Geff O’Brien, student success manager and fourth-year psychology major.

“It’s not something they think can change, they think that school can suffer, but work can’t.”

O’Brien suggested that students explore alternatives to work, like financial aid programs.

Other statistics showed the average hourly wage of post-secondary students increased from $10.75 to $11.80, but they were working one hour less per week. The average total earned by post-secondary students held at $6,300 during the 2009-2010 school year.

The report also found that 50 per cent of women were employed while pursuing post-secondary education compared to only 40 per cent of men.

The service sector made up 96 per cent of the jobs held by post-secondary students, with the majority working in retail and followed by food service.

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