Record number of workers approaching retirement

Bad news for employers facing continuing labour shortages

Record number of workers approaching retirement

Already struggling to find talent amid the “great resignation”, employers have another issue to worry about: a record number of people nearing retirement.

Currently, 64.8 per cent of the Canadian population are in the working age, ages 15 to 64. However, 21.8 per cent of are now aged 55 to 64 — an all-time high in the history of Canadian censuses, according to Statistics Canada (StatCan).

In 2021, the number of persons aged 65 and older rose 18.3 per cent to seven million from 2016 to 2021. This is the second largest increase in 75 years, after gains from 2011 to 2016 (20 per cent).

The seven million represents nearly 19 per cent of the total Canadian population, up from 16.9 per cent in 2016.

“Over the next decade, persons aged 55 to 64 are expected to carry less demographic weight within the working-age population. This is because the last cohorts of the large baby boom generation will have turned 65 by 2030. They will be replaced by individuals from the smaller generation X and, as a result, the number of people nearing retirement is expected to decline over the coming years,” says StatCan.

“As the last of the baby boom cohorts turn 65, this will mean that the working age population, those age 15 to 64, will make up a smaller proportion of the overall Canadian population.”

Luckily for employers, almost one in five (18 per cent of) Canadians aged 50 and up are planning to push out their retirement date, according to a separate study from RBC.

Fewer younger workers

It may take a long time before there’s an increase in the working-age population, according to StatCan's data.

This is because the number of children younger than 15 grew six times slower than the number of persons aged 65 and older from 2016 to 2021. Last year, there were six million children in Canada, representing 16.3 per cent of the total Canadian population.

Canadians aged 65 and older topped the number of children younger than 15 for the first time in 2016. Since then, the gap has widened from 96,000 to just over one million in 2021.

Also, the number of children under the age of five fell 3.6 per cent, from 1,899,000 in 2016 to 1,831,000 in 2021. This is due to a decrease in the fertility rate for Canadian women, which has been observed since 2016.

In 2020, the total fertility rate reached a historic low of 1.4 children per woman. And it may be even lower in the future: one in five Canadian women report that they wanted to delay their plans to have children because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to StatCan.

However, just 44 per cent of Canadians are confident they will have enough money to retire as planned, according to a previous survey. And two-thirds (67 per cent) of Canadians feel that the country is facing an emerging retirement crisis, according to another report.

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