Black History Month 2024... by the numbers

Black History Month 2024... by the numbers

Sociodemographic diversity

  • In 2021, Canada's Black population reached 1.5 million, accounting for 4.3% of the total population and 16.1% of the racialized population. Footnote 1Footnote 2
  • The Black population continues to grow and is expected to reach more than 3.0 million by 2041, according to population projections from Statistics Canada. Footnote 3
  • In 2021, over 40.9% of the Black population was Canadian-born—this includes individuals with multi-generational Canadian roots as well as children of immigrants. Footnote 4
  • Among the Black population in Canada that was born outside of the country, 55.3% was born in Africa—Nigeria (12 %), Ethiopia (4.7%), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (4.1%) were the leading places of birth.
  • Additionally, 35.6% of the Black population born outside Canada was born in the Caribbean and Bermuda, primarily in Jamaica (14.9%) and Haiti (12.1%). Footnote 5
  • The Black population in Canada identified with more than 300 ethnic or cultural origins in the 2021 Census. Footnote 6
  • Diverse religious affiliations were reported by the Black population in 2021—25.9% reported being Christian without further indication of a specific denomination, 18.1% Catholicism, 11.9% Islam, 8.0% Pentecostalism, and 18.0% indicated they had no religious affiliation. Footnote 7
  • Over the 2015-to-2018 period, 2.1% of the Black population aged 15 years and older reported being lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB), with 0.6% identifying as gay or lesbian. Footnote 8
  • Among Canadians aged 15 years and older with a disability, 2.2% are members of the Black population.Footnote 9 In 2017, this represented about 136,600 Black individuals with disabilities, accounting for 15.8% of the Black population in this age group. Footnote 10


Educational attainment

  • In 2021, about one-third (32.4%) of the Black population aged 25 to 64 held a bachelor's degree or higher, which is comparable to the total 25 to 64 working-age population (32.9%). Footnote 11
  • Nearly one-third of Black men (31.9%) and Black women (32.8%) held a bachelor's degree or higher, a significant increase from 2016 when 27.3% of Black men and 26.6% of Black women had achieved this level of education. Footnote 12
  • Black women are increasingly obtaining a higher education. For example, within the Black graduate population, women represented 64% of 2014 to 2017 graduates with a bachelor's degree or higher. Footnote 13
  • Educational attainment among the Canadian-born Black population aged 25 to 54 varies significantly by the place of birth of their parents. Close to half (46.4%) of the Canadian-born children of African immigrants and over one-fourth (27.4%) of the Canadian-born children of Caribbean immigrants obtained a bachelor's degree or higher. In contrast, a smaller proportion (15.9%) of the third generation or more Black population achieved the same level of education. Footnote 14

Labour market participation and business ownership

  • Over the three months leading to the end of December 2023, the employment rateFootnote 15 of the Black population aged 25 to 54 was 78.9%, a slight decrease from December 2022 (80.6%). Footnote 16
  • Among those aged 25 to 54, Black men (81.4%) and Black women (76.4%) had lower employment rates than the averages for all men and all women (87.7% and 81.8%, respectively) in December 2023 (three-month moving averages, not seasonally adjusted). Footnote 17
  • The unemployment rateFootnote 18 of core-aged Black workers (25 to 54) rose to 8.5% in December 2023 from 6.9% in December 2022.
  • Core-aged Black men had a higher unemployment rate (9.2%) than core-aged Black women 7.8%. These rates were significantly higher compared to the core-aged total population (4.8% and 4.2%, respectively).Footnote 19
  • The Canadian-born Black population worked in lower-level occupations relative to their education and were less likely to have full-time, full-year work, compared to the non-racialized third-generation or more population.Footnote 20
  • In 2021, 16% of Black workers holding a bachelor's degree or higher from a Canadian institution worked in occupations that require a high school diploma or less. This rate is notably higher than the average for the Canadian-educated population (11.1%). Footnote 21
  • The top occupational groups of the Black population in 2021 were sales and service occupations (28.6%), business, finance, and administration occupations (15.5%), trades, transport, and equipment operators, and related occupations (14.9%) and health occupations (12.9%). Footnote 22
  • In 2018, there were approximately 66,880 Black business owners in Canada, constituting 2.1% of all business owners. Footnote 23
  • From 2005 to 2018, the share of Black people among both incorporated and unincorporated business owners (i.e., those commonly referred to as self-employed workers) has increased for both women and men, signalling a growing trend in Black business ownership in Canada. Footnote 24
  • A majority of Black business owners were men (70.4%) and immigrants (61.4%). Footnote 25

Income and inequality

  • In 2020, the median income of Black individuals with a bachelor's degree or higher was $50,000, compared to $70,000 for the non-racialized population.Footnote 26
  • Black men, across different age groups and parents' region of birth, earned less than their non-racialized counterparts—the largest earnings gap was among non-racialized men and third-generation plus Black men (-$16,300) and the smallest was among Black men born to African immigrants and non-racialized men (-$8,500).Footnote 27
  • Among women, Black Canadians third generations or more (-$9,500) and children of Caribbean immigrants (-$1,300) earn less than non-racialized third-generation or more women, while children of African immigrants earn more (+$3,100).Footnote 28
  • Within the Black population, 15.0% (or 232,010 individuals) were living in low-income conditionsFootnote 29 (LIM-AT)Footnote 30. This is a higher percentage compared to the non-racialized population (10.3%). Footnote 31
  • Immigrants who were part of the Black population were slightly more likely to live in low-income conditions (16.3%), followed by the third generation or more (15.8%), and the second-generation (12.4%). Footnote 32
  • While poverty rates among racialized groups generally decrease from one generation to the next, the Black population consistently experiences higher poverty rates than the non-racialized population across all generations. Among the Black population who belongs to the third generation or more, the poverty rate (12.1%) is more than double of that of their counterparts who were part of the non-racialized population (6%). Footnote 33

Future outlook

  • Despite the persistent challenges the Black population encounters (e.g., in the labour market, with income inequality, education disparities, etc.), the Black population in Canada demonstrates resilience and a continuous upward trend in education and employment. Footnote 34
  • In 2021-22, nearly three-quarters (72.5%) of the Black population reported having a hopeful view of the future compared to 64.1% of the total population. Footnote 35
  • In 2023, Black business ownersFootnote 36 (22.3%) were the most likely to report a very optimistic future outlook over the next 12 month in comparison to all business owners (18.9%) operating in the private sector. Footnote 37