Aging Work Force

January 2021

Retirement is not what it was.  The aged-over-55 work force is growing.  Whether this is good or bad depends on your situation.

Fewer than 12 percent of jobs in Canada were held by those over 55 in 1976.  That percentage fell to under 10 percent by the mid-1990s before starting to climb.  Today 21.5 percent of jobs in Canada are held by those over 55 with further increases likely.  This represents 38 percent of those over 55 working in 2017 – up from 24 percent in the 1990s.

Fiftysomething workers now hold more than one in five Canadian jobs.  Fewer pensions, poor savings, a rising divorce rate and bad investment choices all contribute to this trend.  Fewer people being able to retire means more people forced to work longer.  Those who have jobs are less likely to give them up.

Higher labour force participation by those over 55 allows younger generations to benefit from lower interest rates and borrowing costs.  It helps compensate for retirement savings that no longer earn a return comparable to prior decades.

Borrowing costs less and homes cost more.  Reduced investment income may mean having to work much later in life than anticipated.  Younger workers may find it harder to move upwards into jobs currently filled by older workers.

This trend is likely to continue for another decade as baby boomers find it necessary to work later into life and are less likely to retire.  As in Japan, workers aged over 55 are likely to become the largest segment of Canada’s work force by 2024.

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