L'aggravation du chômage des jeunes québécois depuis 1966 est principalement due à la raréfaction progressive de l'emploi depuis 1974 (et surtout depuis 1979) ainsi qu'à la vulnérabilité particulière des jeunes à la conjoncture. Ce chômage est aussi fort concentre parmi les jeunes décrocheurs en état chronique de privation d'emploi. Le problème ne peut être résolu sans l'adoption d'une politique macroéconomique résolument expansionniste qui doit être appuyée par une politique microéconomique conduisant à une répartition plus équitable de l'emploi.
Youth unemployment in Quebec increased from 6% in 1966 to 23% in 1982, in pace with a similar deterioration of youth employment prospects in the rest of Canada, the U.S. and other industrial countries. There are two dominant causes of the youth labour market problem: 1) rising job shortage in the aggregate following generally contractionary macropolicy after 1974 — and most conspicuously in 1979-82 — and 2) the very sharp sensitivity of youth unemployment to the inferior aggregate job prospects. Demographic factors, generous amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act (1971), and overindexation of the minimum wage also contributed to the higher youth unemployment figures. However, the retreat of the demographic tide and the recent trend toward more realistic labour market policies have since worked to ease youth joblessness somewhat. Youth unemployment is not only high, it is also sharply concentrated. The typical unemployment spell is short (e.g. 3 months), but most of the unemployment consists of a relatively small number of young people who will be out of work for quite a long time because they cannot find jobs. These youth have very often dropped out of school early, and corne from disadvantaged families or from lagging industrial regions. The increase in unemployment for young university graduates is real, but considerably less important than for other young people. A university degree still pays off. It follows that there is no more efficient youth employment policy than a full employment macropolicy aimed at ail workers. Such a policy would do its best to keep interest rates low and stable and would let federal deficits swell in the short run so as to offset deficient private aggregate demand. A microeconomic policy for youth employment recovery however, must also support the expansionary aggregate demand policies. Six central ingredients are considered: 1) Cautious and selective public employment programs. 2) Stabilization of the minimum wage as a fraction of the average wage. 3) Selective wage subsidies for employment in the private sector. 4) A reduction of payroll taxes, which discriminate against employment at average or lower wages. 5) Suppression of the most conspicuous discriminatory practices used by unions, trades and professions against the entry of young people in specific jobs. 6) Support for the continuing progress of the quantity and quality of education.
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