What it measures
This indicator reports the proportion of Canadians who are working part-time not by choice, but rather because there are no opportunities for full-time employment. Working part-time when full-time work would be preferred is an example of underemployment. This type of underemployment often increases during economic downturns, with some groups affected more than others. For example, younger people and those entering (or re-entering) the workforce may have less access to the “hidden” job market, resulting in fewer full-time work options available. During the past 20 years, underemployment has fluctuated in response to economic conditions. For example, the chart below shows a substantial increase following the 2008 recession.
Why this matters
Working fewer hours than preferred is related to many quality of life indicators including a lower income, higher incidence of depression, feelings of frustration, and lower levels of self-esteem. Experiences of underemployment can compromise wellbeing, particularly when people have limited access to financial resources and social support.