Immigrant employment rate in Canada rose in 2023

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: January 6, 2024

According to 2023 Statistics Canada (StatsCan) data released yesterday, there is a clear correlation between the employment rate of core working-age immigrants* and how long it has been since they landed in Canada.

Importantly, StatsCan’s data assessed employment and unemployment for two general groups of immigrants – those aged “15 years or older” and those who are “25 to 54 years old” (defined by StatsCan as being of core working-age).

However, this article will focus on core working-age Canadian immigrants, as they represent a larger proportion of annual immigrants to Canada and are a greater area of focus for the Canadian immigration system.

Employment Rate Among Core Working-Age Immigrants

In 2023, core working-age immigrants across Canada experienced an increase in their employment rate corresponding with the number of years since landing in Canada.

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In other words, among 25-to-54-year-old immigrants, the employment rate for 2023 was highest for those who landed in Canada “more than 10 years earlier” and lowest for immigrants who landed in “five or less years earlier.”

Specifically, StatsCan data displayed the following figures for employment rates among core working-age immigrants in 2023.

  • Immigrants who landed 5 or fewer years earlier: 77.8%
  • Immigrants who landed between 5 to 10 years earlier: 81.9%
  • Immigrants who landed over 10 years earlier: 84.5%

Notably, the overall employment rate among landed immigrants in 2023 was 82.6%, nearly four percent lower than the employment rate of Canadian-born members of the core working-age population (86.3%).

Also worth noting is that the 2023 employment rate figures are the highest they have been since 2019 for two of the three immigrant sub-groups.

More specifically, since reaching 81% in 2019, the employment rate for immigrants in Canada between 5-10 years dropped to 74.4% in 2020. Since then, this figure has slowly risen to where it stands for 2023. In addition, immigrants in Canada for at least 10 years saw their employment rate reach 83.2% before dropping to 77.9% in 2020. This number also steadily increased in the last three years until now.

On the other hand, immigrants who landed in Canada five or fewer years ago had an employment rate of 71.1% in 2019. While this rate has also rebounded since dipping to 69.3% in 2020, this sub-group suffered a marginal decrease in their employment rate from 2022 (78%) to 2023 (77.8%).

Note: The drops in employment rates in 2020 can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic

Unemployment Rate Among Core Working-Age Immigrants

The same trend related to better employment outcomes with more time since landing in Canada can be found in the unemployment rate of core working-age immigrants for 2023.

Specifically, the following outlines the unemployment rates among core working-age immigrants for 2023.

  • Immigrants who landed 5 or fewer years earlier: 8.0%
  • Immigrants who landed between 5 to 10 years earlier: 5.2%
  • Immigrants who landed over 10 years earlier: 4.7%

Notably, after each sub-group reached a high* in 2020 with respect to their unemployment rate, all three groups of landed immigrants saw a declining unemployment rate in 2021 but a rise in this figure over the last two years.

*The high that each group reached in 2020 is relative to data dating back to 2019

Immigrants who landed 5 or fewer years earlier

  • 2021: 8.6%
  • 2022: 7.7%
  • 2023: 8.0%

Immigrants who landed between 5 to 10 years earlier

  • 2021: 8.7%
  • 2022: 4.9%
  • 2023: 5.2%

Immigrants who landed over 10 years earlier

  • 2021: 7.1%
  • 2022: 4.6%
  • 2023: 4.7%

Note: As a point of comparison, the unemployment rate of Canadian-born people in this age group was 4.0% in 2023, up from 3.9% a year prior

Other key immigrant employment statistics in 2023

Labour force participation rate in 2023 was highest among longest-tenured immigrants

  • Immigrants who landed 5 or fewer years earlier: 84.6%
  • Immigrants who landed between 5 to 10 years earlier: 86.3%
  • Immigrants who landed over 10 years earlier: 88.7%

In 2023, 89.9% of Canadian-born members of the core working-age population participated in the national labour force.

Growth in full-time employment for all immigrant sub-groups between 2022 and 2023

StatsCan defines full-time employment as working “30 hours or more per week at their main or only job.”

Note: The following estimates are in the 1000s, rounded to the nearest hundred

Immigrants who landed 5 or fewer years earlier

2022: 600.7

2023: 647.1

Immigrants who landed between 5 to 10 years earlier

2022: 667.6

2023: 676.4

Immigrants who landed over 10 years earlier

2022: 1961.0

2023: 2031.4

One immigrant subgroup saw a decline in part-time employment between 2022 and 2023

Between 2022 and 2023, immigrants who landed in Canada five or fewer years ago saw an increase in part-time employment* over the last two years (73.1 in 2022 to 75.8 in 2023). Again, the following estimates (as well as those above) are in the 1000s, then rounded to the nearest hundred.

*StatsCan defines part-time employment as working “less than 30 hours per week at their main or only job”

The same is true for immigrants who landed in Canada at least 10 years ago, as this group saw a part-time employment boom from 249.3 in 2022 to 252.7 in 2023.

On the other hand, however, immigrants who landed in Canada between five and 10 years ago saw a decline in part-time employment – from 88.1 (2022) to 76.1 (2023).

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