Older workers age 60-plus represent 8 per cent of the workforce, but account for 30 per cent of new job gains
TheStar.com – business
Published Feb. 23, 2012. Vanessa Lu, Business Reporter
The days of counting down the years until hitting the magic retirement age are gone, as more Canadians are working longer.
Using Statistics Canada data, TD economic Francis Fong points out that since mid-2009, when the economic recovery began, until January 2012, people 60 or older have accounted for about one-third of all net new job gains.
That’s striking considering they only represent 8 per cent of the total labour force.
During the depth of the recession almost 100,000 net jobs that were added were among those 60 or older. By comparison, those 59 or younger recorded more than 500,000 net job losses over the same period.
And the reasons for this are many, from being healthy and living longer to the end of mandatory retirement in Ontario, says a new report from TD Economics called Older Workers Stampede into the Labour Market.
But other factors include watching their retirement savings shrink or not gain as much during the 2008 financial crisis, or because they are simply carrying too much debt and have not saved enough.
“It would be difficult to say they’re stealing jobs from other people,” he said, citing the example of a public sector employee with 30 years’ experience wouldn’t be competing for the same job as a new graduate.
“I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily at anyone’s expense,” said Fong in an interview, noting in some cases it’s a natural progression of moving up into an older category.
Fong added older Canadians are looking for flexible work arrangements that can include part-time, temporary work and self-employment.
The sector that has seen a substantial jump in older workers is in the retail sector.
“Interestingly, employment in the sector has languished for almost three years and is below its pre-recession peak, yet older workers have recorded a net gain of some 75,000 jobs in the retail industry,” the report says.
Andrew Siegwart, senior vice-president of membership at the Retail Council of Canada, said it reflects a trend where the retail industry employs individuals at all stages of their lives, not just students.
Some retail outlets are keen to hire people with specialty experience, such as a home improvement store choosing a retired contractor, who may want to continue to work, he said.
While some people are choosing to work because they need to financially others simply are not ready to leave the workforce altogether.
“I think people don’t really want to retire,” Fong said. “People don’t necessarily want to go from 40 to 50 hours to zero.
“Having a purpose in your day-to-day life is a good thing. There is evidence people don’t necessarily want to go and say ‘I’m done with my working life. I’m going to garden and travel or whatever.’
“They want to do something in between, take on some part-time job, or maybe they want to stay on in their firm, consulting or work a day or two,” he said.
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