Immigrants better educated but earning less than a decade ago
Lost ground by just about every income measure
OTTAWA (CP) — The 2001 census reveals some troubling statistics for Canada’s most recent immigrants, who were better educated and yet earning less when they entered the labour market than a decade earlier.
Newcomers are also failing to make up ground as quickly as they did in the past — leaving them much further behind Canadian-born workers with similar educations after 10 years in the country.
“The earnings of recent immigrants compared to those of the Canadian-born have deteriorated sharply,” Statistics Canada said Tuesday in its report on earnings and education.
Canadian immigration levels remained high throughout the last decade, despite a significant economic downturn in the early ’90s, and it appears that newcomers paid a price.
In all, the census counted 805,000 immigrants aged 25 to 54 who arrived last decade. Some 40 per cent of this group had a university education — compared to 23 per cent of their Canadian-born counterparts — as the federal government continued to demand higher education credentials as part of immigration policy.
Yet immigrants lost ground by just about every income measure.
Male newcomers in 2000 could expect to earn 63.1 cents for every dollar of Canadian-born wages after one year in the country, down from 63.4 cents in 1990 and 71.6 cents in 1980. Women earned just 60.5 cents, compared to 70.5 cents in 1990.
More troubling was that immigrants who’d been in Canada for 10 years, a period when traditionally they had caught or surpassed Canadian-born earnings, were well behind and slipping.
“Recent immigrants were really hard-hit by that recession in the 1990s,” Miles Corak, a director with Statistics Canada, said in an interview.
“It seems that the aftershocks of that recession are still being felt.”
In 2000, male immigrants earned just 79.8 cents of the Canadian-born workers’ dollar after 10 years, compared to over 90 cents in 1990 and dollar-for-dollar in 1980. Women immigrants managed 87.3 cents in 2000, down from 93.3 cents in 1990 and $1.03 in 1980.
“Even with knowledge of an official language, earnings did not rise much after three or four years in the country,” Statistics Canada noted.
In 1990, said the agency, newcomers who spoke French or English could expect to reach average Canadian earnings in seven years. By 2000, such linguistically comfortable immigrants who had been in Canada for 10 years were still taking home about $10,000 less than the Canadian average.
“The earnings gain associated with immigrants skills, among them language and university education, has fallen,” said Statistics Canada.
And it didn’t matter whether they worked in high-skill or low-skill jobs.
“The difference was especially marked for those in management,” said the agency.
“In these fields, men aged 25 to 54 who immigrated during the 1990s and held a university degree earned between 50 and 60 cents for every dollar earned by their Canadian-born counterparts.”
A university-educated male immigrant who had been in Canada for 10 years earned an average $47,522 in 2000 — almost $19,000, or 28 per cent, less than their Canadian-born peer. In 1990, the difference was $8,315, or 13 per cent less.
For women, the differential was less pronounced but still widening — 20 per cent less in 2000 compared to 12 per cent less in 1990.
“The big question the census is raising is, why aren’t their university credentials as valued as they were in the past?” said Corak.
“Regardless of the occupation, they’re getting paid less.”
Overall, annual earnings for male immigrants aged 25 to 54 who arrived during the ’90s averaged $33,900 in 2000 — almost 25 per cent below that of Canadian-born workers. More significantly, that immigrant income was down 15 per cent in constant, inflation-adjusted dollars from the $40,100 earned in 1980 by newcomers who arrived in the ’70s.
INDEX: EDUCATION SOCIAL LABOUR ECONOMY BUSINESS POLITICS