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A survey by Statistics Canada finds Black Canadians earn less than non-visible minority Canadians despite having higher levels of education. (The Canadian Press file photo)

A survey by Statistics Canada finds Black Canadians earn less than non-visible minority Canadians despite having higher levels of education. (The Canadian Press file photo)

COVID-19 worsened unemployment picture for Black Canadians

Black Canadians also more likely to suffer other hardships

A survey of Black Canadians finds COVID-19 appears to have exacerbated their historically higher unemployment rates.

According to Statistics Canada, Black Canadians have experienced a higher unemployment rate than non-visible minority Canadians in the recent past. While the 2016 Census recorded 12.5 per cent of Black Canadians in the labour force as unemployed, the figure for non-visible minority Canadians was 6.9 per cent.

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey suggest that the unemployment rate increased more among Black Canadians than among non-visible minority Canadians from January 2020 to January 2021.

“In the three months ending in January 2021, the unemployment rate among Black Canadians (13.1 per cent) was about 70 per cent higher than that among non-visible minority Canadians (7.7 per cent),” it reads.

Black Canadians aged 25 to 54 as well as Black youth aged 15 to 24 have also recorded significantly higher unemployment rates than non-visible minority Canadians in those age groups. In the case of working adults, the difference was 54 per cent, in the case of youth, the difference was 96 per cent.

According to the report, Black Canadians were also almost twice as likely as non-visible minority Canadians (33.2 per cent versus 16.6 per cent) to be living in a household that had difficulties meeting its basic bills over the last four weeks. Likely factors include lower hourly wages as Black Canadians earned an average of $26.70 an hour in January 2021, some $3.92 less than non-visible minority Canadians, and varying employment rates in health care and social assistance, a key sector for Black Canadians, especially woman. As of January 2021, almost 32 per cent of Black women reported working in that sector, where employment has only recently returned to pre-pandemic.

RELATED: COVID-19 threatens the food security of millions of Canadians

RELATED: Canada’s economy likely suffered its worst year on record, shrank by 5%: StatsCan

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The survey finds Black Canadians are more likely to hold a university degree than Canadians who are not a visible minority, but “some groups may face barriers related to the accreditation of degrees earned overseas, skill mismatches or discrimination.” While the number of Black Canadians aged 25 to 54 with a bachelor degree was 9.2 per cent higher than the number of Canadians in the same age group who were not a visible minority, the employment rate among univeristy graduates favoured non-visible minority Canadians by five per cent.

Black Canadians were as likely to be represented in various sectors as non-visible minority Canadians with one notable difference: management. Black Canadians were also less likely to be self-employed.

According to the survey, Canada is home to one million Black Canadians aged 15 to 69. Over one-quarter of Black Canadians in this age group were born in Canada (27.1 per cent), and two-thirds (66.3 per cent) are immigrants.


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