Welcome to the inaugural Urban Work Index, the first of its kind to look specifically at urban work in Canada. The Index, which was funded by RBC Future Launch, ranks 21 Canadian cities based on 48 urban work indicators, and found Edmonton to be the top-ranked city in the country. Edmonton scored 713.86 points out of a possible 1,310 available points.

As Canada’s population ages, we need to make sure our cities are vibrant places for youth to work. Using this new Index as inspiration, we have a challenge for Canada and Canadian cities: make full youth employment (youth unemployment below 6%) a goal by 2024. Clearly, we can, and we need to do more. We need to spark a national dialogue on the future of urban work and youth’s critical role in it.

With 87% of Canadian youth aged 15-29 living in cities, the YouthfulCities Urban Work Index creates a way for youth to explore the best cities for them to work. It uses an expansive, youth-driven definition for work that includes four thematic areas: Education (affordability, access, work-integrated learning experiences), Entrepreneurship (spirit, spaces, programming), Affordability (housing, utilities, transportation, food/clothing, leisure, health) and Employment (basic, career-oriented, city economic profile, programs).

Urban Work Index 2019

Where is the best place for urban work in Canada? We set out to answer this question with our Urban Work Index, ranking 21 cities across Canada on various attributes to create a holistic picture of work. Each city was ranked on a total of 1310 possible points. The overall ranking is designed to expand the discussion on youth work from simply unemployment statistics to an intersectional analysis that reflects youth’s priorities when navigating work in their cities.

The overall ranking shows each city's complete score, across the themes of work relevant to youth; affordability and education, employment, entrepreneurship. In the overall ranking, Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa make up the top three. Geographically across Canada, every region has a city in the top 10 - a city that excels across our youthful measures of urban work. Interestingly, Toronto and Vancouver end up in the middle of the pack. Their finish here reflects a story that may be different from assumptions about where the best places in Canada are to work. Importantly, even the cities at the top of the list do not come close to the total possible points, showing that no city is perfect for youth looking for work in urban centres. As we prepare for the future of work and its potential changes, cities play an important role in making decisions that will impact young people's evaluations about where they work.

Overall Ranking

Building blocks of the Urban Work Index

YouthfulCities has been ranking cities around the globe on youthfulness since 2013. Our understanding of what to measure is based on surveys with over 30,000 youth around the world to understand what they care about in their cities. Great cities to work in comes up as one of the main themes.


For youth, work is not just about generating an income. It is a more comprehensive model that includes having an affordable city to live in, having the skills and education to increase their income over time, finding a first job that delivers some experience and then parlaying that experience into a more career-oriented future. For some it is also about starting a business. Where youth choose to live can impact affordability, eduction, employment and entrepreneurship dramatically.


But how does the most mobile generation of youth ever choose a great city to work in? We have created the new Urban Work Index, ranking 21 cities across Canada. Measuring and analyzing what are the best cities for work, from the perspective of youth, is no easy task. In order to understand what elements are a priority for youth when considering their careers and futures, we consulted 170 youth across Canada about their opinions on the future of work in their cities. We developed 16 attributes of work stemming from our four themes: Affordability, Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship. For each of the attributes, we asked youth to tell us, on a scale of 1-10, how important the given attribute is for them. Then we finalized a list of 48 indicators to measure cities from work perspective for youth.

Explore the data