An "unstable job record" at the age of 18 is linked to continuing involvement with crime from ages 21 to 24. Difficulties in finding employment or succeeding in the workplace can be a blow to one's self-esteem and can lead vulnerable people to look elsewhere for sources of income.1
This link can be seen in national crime statistics. Between 1997 and 2003, rates of crime and unemployment rates show a strong correlation (see graphs below).2
In Cutting Crime Significantly, Irvin Waller concludes that drops in unemployment were one of the primary reasons for the 30% drop in the crime rate over the 1990s.3
The correlation between crime rates and unemployment may explain why so much crime is committed by youth. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics found that "the unemployment rate of youths (aged 15-24) has been consistently higher than the unemployment rate for adults." They found that this is particularly true for youth with limited education.4
Across all socio-economic groups, the ability to obtain employment is strongly correlated with educational attainment, and there is a stronger than average correlation between education and employment among Aboriginal youth.5
As a result, interventions aimed at keeping youth in school, bringing youth back into school, and ensuring the availability of post-secondary education are key factors in addressing both unemployment and crime. (For more on this, please see our
Winnipeg offers some good examples of programs which start early to address the employment-readiness of youth. The Rotary Club funds summer employment programs for youth aged 10 to 15 as a means of keeping youth out of gangs. The programs are administered by different social agencies throughout the city. Some are administered through schools, and continue in modified form throughout the school year. For more information, see "Thinking Outside the Hood" and "Quick Studies" in the Preventing Crime through Social Development Bulletin No. 8.