Atlantic Research Group on Economics of Immigration, Aging and Diversity

Immigrants in Labour Force of Canada and Atlantic Canada

Employment and wages by skill levels, 2006 and 2016

Over the ten-year period, labour force composition of immigrants has increased in Canada. In 2006, one in five employees in Canada was an immigrant. In 2016, nearly one in four employees was an immigrant. The increase occurred across all levels of job skills. Immigrants comprise the highest percentage of professionals, followed by lower-skilled jobs at intermediate and laboring levels (Table 1).

Table 1:
Immigrants in employed labour force by skill levels, Canada 2006 and 2016 (%)

 

Skill level

2006

2016

Overall

20.4 24.4

Management

20.6

23.8

Professional

23.0

27.4

Technical/

Paraprofessional

18.1

21.3

Intermediate

20.9

25.6

Labouring

21.1

26.1

Source: Computations based on special tabulations obtained from Labour Force Surveys provided by Statistics Canada.

In Atlantic Canada, the overall composition of immigrants in the labour force also increased but it remains under 5 percent. In 2016, their percentage was the highest among high-skilled managerial and professional jobs and the lowest among medium skilled technical / paraprofessional jobs (Table 2).

 

Table 2: Immigrants in employed labour force by skill levels, Atlantic Canada 2006 and 2016 (%)

 


 

Skill level

2006

2016

Overall

3.4 4.7

Management

6.6

6.9

Professional

6.8

8.2

Technical/

Paraprofessional

2.6

3.3

Intermediate

2.4

3.9

Labouring

1.9

4.0

Source: Computations based on special tabulations obtained from Labour Force Surveys provided by Statistics Canada.

Nationally, immigrants earn lower than Canadian born, and this gap has widened over the ten year period. The highest wage differential is in medium to low-skilled jobs (Table 3).

Table 3: Immigrants’ hourly wage differential with Canadian born, by skill levels, Canada 2006 and 2016 (%)

Skill level

2006

2016

Overall

-1.0

-4.7

Management

3.1

-3.1

Professional

2.0

-1.5

Technical/

Paraprofessional

-3.4

-9.0

Intermediate

-4.6

-5.2

Labouring

2.5

-0.8

Source: Computations based on special tabulations obtained from Labour Force Surveys provided by Statistics Canada.

In contrast, immigrant workers have a wage advantage over Canadian born workers in Atlantic Canada. However, over the ten-year period, this advantage substantially reduced when the wages of immigrants working in medium skilled technical / paraprofessional jobs went down from about 10 percent higher than Canadian born to 10 percent lower than Canadian born (Table 4).

Table 4: Immigrants’ hourly wage differential with Canadian born, by skill levels, Atlantic Canada 2006 and 2016 (%)

Skill level

2006

2016

Overall

21.0 5.6

Management

10.0

3.9

Professional

5.8

0.3

Technical/

Paraprofessional

9.7

-10.0

Intermediate

-5.3

-1.6

Labouring

-2.7

-7.3

Source: Computations based on special tabulations obtained from Labour Force Surveys provided by Statistics Canada.

About 2 percent of overall labour force in Atlantic Canada comprised of recent immigrants as of 2016 when they were represented in higher-skilled jobs more than in 2006  (Table 5).

Table 5: Recent immigrants in employed labour force by skill levels, Atlantic Canada 2006 and 2016 (%)

Skill level

2006

2016

Overall

1.0 2.0

Management

1.6

2.5

Professional

2.3

3.2

Technical/

Paraprofessional

0.6

1.4

Intermediate

0.7

1.7

Labouring

7.6

2.5

Source: Computations based on special tabulations obtained from Labour Force Surveys provided by Statistics Canada.

In 2016, recent immigrants earned about 9 percent lower wages than did Canadian born, while 10 years ago, they had a wage advantage of 13 percent (Table 6).

 

Table 6: Recent immigrants hourly wage differential with Canadian born, by skill levels, Atlantic Canada 2006 and 2016 (%)

Skill level

2006

2016

Overall

13.3 -8.8

Management

X

x

Professional

2.9

-11.7

Technical/

Paraprofessional

-2.2

-18.9

Intermediate

-9.8

-7.9

Labouring

x

-9.5

Source: Computations based on special tabulations obtained from Labour Force Surveys provided by Statistics Canada.

 

The decline in wage advantage of immigrants over Canadian born in Atlantic Canada could be attributed to slowdown of economic activity in some major producing sectors, such as the oil sector, wind energy sector, and also in some major construction projects such as Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Project and Hebron Oil Project, which are nearing completion. Some fiscal spending constraints at provincial levels may also have resulted in slowing down of provincial economies. One US study, Zhang (2012), has shown that during economic downturns immigrants are hurt more than native-born.[1] This possibility for Canada and its provinces needs further investigation.


[1] Zhang, Y. 2012. “Are immigrants hurt more disproportionately than natives during economic downturn?” Thesis written at Tilburg University.