Gen Y on the move: Why Canadian young people leave home for work

Published On Wed Mar 14 2012
Gen Y on the move:  Toronto native Joseph Yun, 28, moved to Calgary for a job and never looked back.

Gen Y on the move: Toronto native Joseph Yun, 28, moved to Calgary for a job and never looked back.

Special to the Star

Joseph Yun had just turned 25 and was living with his parents in Toronto, a year and a half out of university when he got a job in Calgary.

On impulse, he hopped into his car and headed west, to a city he never expected to live in.

That was four years ago, and he’s set himself on a career path as a development planner with the city of Calgary.

“It’s a fairly typical story,” he says. In the rapidly growing city he meets young people from all over the country who flocked to the west seeking opportunity.

After all, the migration of young people is particularly driven by the labour market, said Serge Coulombe, an economics professor at the University of Ottawa. They also have less to lose and more to gain.

About 100,000 people have left Ontario between 2003 and 2010 and about half of them are young people, he says. The rates of inter-province migration are 5 to ten times higher for people between 20 to 30 than people who are 40 to 50.

Migration is also extremely susceptible to unemployment rate, notes a. As the unemployment rate rises one percentage point, the probability of migration increases 10 per cent.

So young people are headed to Alberta and Saskatchewan, both provinces with lower youth unemployment rates than the national 14.7 per cent.

Calgary has the most favourable hiring forecast for April to June in the country, followed by Red Deer, Alta. and Richmond-Delta, B.C. according to employers polled for the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

While the survey didn’t look at the migration of young workers, there is a trend of skilled and semi-skilled workers who are under-30 making the move to Alberta, Saskatchewan, as well as the Atlantic provinces, says Janis Sugar, director of marketing for Manpower Canada.

Similarly, she has noted young people from B.C. moving to the growing Alberta services and sales sector.