Canada's millennials working harder, working more than previous generations

Exhausted young man with laptop in office
Photo credit: Getty

Salary stagnation, underemployment, crushing debt and an "arms-race" for a decent job - millennials have it rough.

But new research shows despite economic pressures, millennials are working more and working harder than those before them.

Abacus Data has released the Canadian Millennials Report. The report interviews over 4000 millennials per year. 

The data shows although average wages for those aged 18-35 have remained stagnant for almost forty years, millennials are participating in the labour force more, and by some measures, working harder than the generations before them.

In 1980, only 78.9 percent of Canadians between the ages of 18-35 were employed. By 2016, 81.2 percent of the same age group had jobs, reports the Ottowa Citizen.

Despite making up the most highly educated generation in history, and participating heavily in the labour force, millennials are struggling in the arms-race for a well paying job.

In 1997, 640,000 Canadians were making minimum wage or less. In 2017, Statistics Canada showed that number had almost doubled.

As many as 300,000 Canadian millennials were working in unpaid internships in 2016 in an attempt to claw their way into higher paid jobs, reports the Canadian Federation of Students.

The majority of these students were also working secondary, low or minimum wage jobs to make ends meet, the Ottowa Citizen reports. 

Alongside this, average student debt levels have crept up more than 40 percent between 1999 and 2012 - and they haven't stopped climbing yet.

But even with a degree, a job isn't guaranteed. Under-employment - where people are over-qualified for the jobs they are in - is skyrocketing for millennials. In the US, under-employment was at 33 percent for graduates between 1980 and 2010.

But that number has jumped to 44 percent for graduates in 2012.

Abacus Data's chief executive, David Coletto is a millennial himself. He says the report reflects a quality of life that is less than ideal.

"I'm seeing, in the data, a growing sense of a shared experience that is getting people quite anxious about their future," he told the Ottowa Citizen.

"There is something to be said for a growing collective understanding among this age group, and this generation that somehow we've been screwed."