Immigrants make less than their Canadian-born counterparts and are more likely to work at jobs they are overqualified for, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.
However, the study found that these gaps shrink over time, and are felt the strongest by immigrants who have recently arrived in Canada.
Immigrants who had arrived in Canada within the previous five years made on average $5.04 less than per hour than people born in Canada. Overall, first-generation immigrants made an average of $2.28 less per hour than Canadian-born workers.
Immigrants were also more likely to be overqualified for their jobs, the study found. Forty-two per cent of immigrant workers had received a greater degree of education than would normally be required for their job, compared with 28 percent of Canadian-born workers.
For new immigrants, the rate was even higher. Two-thirds of university-educated immigrants who arrived within the previous five years were found to be working at jobs that required less than a degree.
According to Jennifer Hunt, an economics professor at McGill University, the biggest problem is not that degrees aren’t being recognized.
“There’s actually pretty good recognition of foreign education, but the problem is experience,” she said.
Hunt said this explains why immigrants’ wages tend to approach those of Canadian born workers over time.
“As they gain experience in Canada, their wage goes up.”
She pointed to another study, released in May, which came to this conclusion.
In that study University of Toronto economics professor Philip Oreopoulos sent out thousands of fake resumÃ©s to online job postings. He found resumÃ©s that only included Canadian experience were over twice as likely to receive a callback as those that only listed experience from China, India or Pakistan, even if the experience was from a multinational company.
Oreopoulos also found that where university degrees were obtained, in Canada or abroad, did not affect the likelihood of a callback.
The majority of recent immigrants to Canada, who come in under the point system, have a university degree.
Hunt said that these problems affect European immigrants as well as those from India, China and Pakistan, where the majority of immigrants to Canada come from.
However, the Oreopoulos study found that resumÃ©s with English-sounding names and British work experience were as likely to be called back those with Canadian experience and English-sounding names. Overall he found that English-sounding names was the biggest factor in determining whether a resumÃ© received a callback.
The Statistics Canada report, released on Monday, used data from Stats Can’s monthly Labour Force Survey in 2008. The study focused on workers between 25 and 54, which the agency describes as “core working-age.”
It also found that immigrants were as likely as people born in Canadia to have multiple jobs and that there were similar rates of part-time employment. Thirty-eight per cent of immigrant workers who work part-time were found to want full-time work, compared to 30 per cent of Canadian-born workers.