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The economics of an aging work force

February 14th, 2017 by

Not retired yet


As a member of the work force approaching 60, I often hear comments like “Aren’t you retired yet?” or “How much longer will you be working?” Somehow I’ve morphed into an oddity – a square peg still trying to fit into that round hole.

I do see the reasons why people may take offence at my employment status. Smart, highly educated young graduates struggle to find jobs. So I ask myself: “Am I, and others of my generation, holding back our youth from fulfilling careers?”

The young and jobless

Let’s look at some numbers from Statistics Canada (some percentages have been rounded).

  • In 2015 workers 55+ made up 20 per cent of the labour force compared to 14 per cent for those under 25. 
  • The largest group was 45 to 54 year olds at 23 per cent, followed closely by 25 to 34 year olds and 35 to 44 year olds at 22 per cent and 21 per cent respectively.
  • As of November 2016, for those 15-25, unemployment was at 12.9 per cent compared to the national average of 6.8 per cent.
  • Also as of November 2016, almost twice as many men as women remain in the workforce over age 65. 

The median age in Canada (median age being the point where there are the same number of people older than as there are younger) is rising. According to Statistics Canada, the median age in Canada in 1956 was 27.2 years. It climbed to 39.5 in 2006 and is projected to reach 46.9 by 2056. As the population ages, less people will be available for work. The baby boomers – the biggest demographic wave in the country’s history – will be starting to retire in a big way. At the same time the younger demographic will continue to shrink. Close to 70 per cent of Canada’s population has fallen into ‘working age’ (15 to 64) for at least the past 30 years. This is projected to plunge for 2016 and beyond – dropping to close to 60 per cent over the next 15-25 years. This means we have to start passing on our knowledge now.   

If you haven’t started yet

  • Plan for the future and pave the way for future generations with succession planning. Developing a succession plan can involve some tough conversations but help is available from your local tax and business advisor.
  • Don’t own your own business? You can still share your knowledge. Don’t keep secrets in an attempt to protect your job. Increased knowledge is a win/win for everyone.
  • Lead by example and don’t just tell employees how to do something – show them. Becoming a mentor can form a professional bond that helps to eliminate resentment and the impression that you and your ideas are old and no longer relatable.

Whether you’re planning to retire or continue your career in 2017, maybe it’s time to sit back and reflect on the best way to pave a better future for us all.

Contributed by Carol Kruck, CPA, CGA, Senior Accountant BDO Canada LLP, Portage la Prairie

Jun 28 2017 10:57pm

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