Our aging workforce: Why Canadians are putting off retirement — and the challenges they face
While Canada’s economy beat expectations by adding 67,200 new jobs in September, almost all of the gains were among the country’s older workers.
It’s a trend that is changing the face of Canada’s workforce: Among Canadians aged 55 years and older, there was a net gain of 56,400 in September, according to data released by Statistics Canada on Friday.
For women in that age group, employment rose 7.5 per cent to 38,000 in September, and about 122,000 over the past year. Employment among men aged 55 and older climbed 2.4 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Meanwhile, employment among young Canadians aged 15-to-24 and 25-to-54 remained unchanged.
Economists had forecast that Canada would add 10,000 positions overall in September, according to estimates from Thomson Reuters.
WHY OLDER CANADIANS ARE PUTTING OFF RETIREMENT
In the past five years, the number of older Canadian workers has increased 22 per cent – nearly 20 times the growth rate for younger workers. Perhaps the biggest reason for this growth is the sheer number of Baby Boomers, the large cohort of Canadians born in the between the end of World War II and 1964. The bulk of the Boomers are now in Statistic Canada’s 55-and-over age bracket.
But it’s not just demographics. Longer life expectancies, the end of mandatory retirement schemes in Canada and just basic need are also contributing to the trend of people prolonging their working lives.
“They can’t afford to retire. I mean, I don’t know anyone who can anymore – $13,000 per year on CPP certainly isn’t enough to live on,” Sharlene Massie, CEO of Alberta-based recruiting and staffing company About Staffing, told BNN in an interview.
Michael Drak, co-author of Victory Lap Retirement, adds that retirees are also extending their working lives because they’re embracing their career passions later in life. Older Canadians tend to have more financial flexibility than their younger counterparts, meaning they have more of an opportunity to explore their hobbies, Drak said in an interview with BNN.
“In your victory lap, we’re working part-time hours, changing jobs and trying something different,” Drak said. “A lot of people are monetizing their hobbies…not just staying in the corporate world.”
CHALLENGES OLDER WORKERS FACE
For those seniors and retirees who want to enter back into the workforce, it’s not always easy.
As Massie explains, not all companies are willing to invest the resources into training someone older who may not stay in the job long term.
“Sometimes they’re interested, sometimes they’re not,” she said.
The challenge extends beyond retirees finding employers who will hire them. To a certain extent, the country can’t afford to have the Boomers retire too early. If they did start leaving the workforce en masse, there'd be more strain on younger workers who will have to fund their pensions, according to TD Economist Brian DePratto.
“What’s really driving things is a bit of a demographic wall,” he told BNN in an interview. “We’ve never really had anything like this in the modern era – just the sheer size of that group of the population all retiring at once.”