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June 2004
Vol. 5, no. 6

Perspectives on Labour and Income

Immigrants: Settling for less?
Diane Galarneau and René Morissette

  • At least one in four recent immigrants with a university degree, who were employed between 1991 and 2001, had a job requiring no more than a high school education. This was twice the proportion of only 12% among native-born Canadians.
  • Recent immigrants most likely to have a job requiring no more than a high school education in 2001 came from South or Southeast Asia, had a mother tongue other than English or French, were members of a visible minority and were women. Those least likely to have such jobs were from North America, Northern or Western Europe or Oceania; had a master's degree or doctorate; were trained in applied sciences; and had English as their mother tongue.
  • Not only do recent immigrants in low-education jobs have lower earnings than those in university-level jobs, but they also earn less than their Canadian-born counterparts working in the same situation. In 2000, recent immigrants employed full time in low-education jobs had weekly earnings at least 20% lower than their Canadian-born counterparts.
  • The difficulty in obtaining university-level jobs is not necessarily a short-term phenomenon. Even after more than 10 years in Canada, at least 21% of employed, university-educated immigrants who arrived between 1985 and 1989 had a low-education job in 2001.

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Diane Galarneau is with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. René Morissette is with the Business and Labour Market Analysis Division. Diane Galarneau can be reached at (613) 951-4626, René Morissette at (613) 951-3608, or both at

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