Based on the Globe and Mail report
A two-year study released on Tuesday offers a rare glimpse at the working lives of newcomers in Toronto, shining a light on what it calls “invisible” hands in the city’s marketplace. Its findings are based on surveys and interviews with 453 immigrants. Seven in 10 respondents are working in poor conditions such as jobs that have irregular hours or violate labour laws. Nearly half work in the “informal economy” – for cash, without receipts – to supplement their incomes. Seventy-one per cent earn less than $30,000 a year. And just 3 per cent who were professionals in their home countries are now working in their fields. The report also noted that 68 per cent of those who could find only casual work had some postsecondary education.
Recent immigrants were hit harder in the recession and have taken longer to recover in the labour market. Their national jobless rate was 13.5 per cent last year compared with 6.9 per cent for the Canadian-born population. Many do find work, but in jobs that are temporary, on call, low wage or below the table.
The consequences are manifold: Eroded earnings are making it tougher for newcomers to climb up the economic ladder, save for retirement and build assets. Unemployment and underemployment also spell lost tax revenue for government coffers. And many employers may be overlooking a key source of labour because they don’t recognize past work experience and education from immigrants’ home countries.
Many newcomers – especially women – are augmenting incomes by working in the informal economy, activities that range from running small businesses to babysitting, working as a day labourer in factories or in restaurants. Harassment is common. Four in 10 said they’d endured bullying or harassment in the workplace, ranging from yelling and threats to physical assault.