Study: How the older unemployed look for work, 2006 to 2010

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Older unemployed workers spent as much time on average looking for work as their younger counterparts did during the four-year period from 2006 to 2010.

On average, unemployed people aged 55 to 64 spent 13 hours per week looking for work. This was similar to the time spent by the youngest group of unemployed aged 20 to 34.

There were, however, differences in job-search methods between the younger and older unemployed. For 49% of the unemployed aged 20 to 34, directly contacting employers was the main job-search method used. In comparison, 42% of the unemployed aged 55 to 64 did the same.

On the other hand, 21% of the unemployed aged 55 to 64 mainly looked at job ads, twice the proportion of those aged 20 to 34.

The older unemployed were also less likely to use the Internet to look for work. About 18% of the unemployed aged 55 to 64 reported using the Internet or a kiosk as their main method of job searching, compared with 23% for the unemployed aged 20 to 34.

About 8% of the older unemployed mainly used a public or private employment agency, a proportion that is similar across all age groups.

By looking for work outside their community, the unemployed increase their chances of finding a suitable job. In this regard, the older unemployed were not significantly different from their younger counterparts as the probability of looking for work outside the community was about 40% in both age groups.

In addition, the older unemployed were more likely to say they would accept a new job if the wage offered was 10% lower than that of their previous job — 81% versus 69% for those aged 20 to 34.

Most of the older unemployed were pessimistic about their chances of finding an acceptable job in the next three months. Among the unemployed aged 55 to 64, 58% felt that their chances of finding such a job were "not very good." This was nearly twice the proportion for the unemployed aged 20 to 34.

The older unemployed who were pessimistic were more likely to report that their health and age were obstacles to their job search.

The study found that the time spent looking for work did not vary depending on the duration of the unemployment spell. People who were unemployed for 24 weeks or more spent as many hours looking for work as those unemployed for less than 8 weeks.

Note to readers

This article examines differences in job-search behaviours between the older unemployed and their younger counterparts. Data came from the Employment Insurance Coverage Survey from 2006 to 2010, which contains detailed information on job-search characteristics. Unemployed seniors aged 65 and over were excluded from the analysis, as were youth under 20 and students, so that the focus was on people whose attachment to the labour market was likely the strongest.

Data from the Labour Force Survey were also used.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers survey number3701 and survey number4428.

The article "The job search of the older unemployed" is now available in the August 2012 online edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income, Vol. 24, no. 3 (Catalogue number75-001-X, free), from the Publications module of our website, under the Key resource tab.

This is the final online edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income. In future, analytical articles on changes in Canada's social and demographic fabric, and related studies, will appear on Statistics Canada's website in a new publication on social statistics. It will be available free of charge beginning in the Fall of 2012.

For more information, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 613-951-8116;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this article, contact André Bernard (613-951-4660;, Labour Statistics Division.

For more information on Perspectives on Labour and Income, contact Ted Wannell (613-951-3546;, Labour Statistics Division.