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Older workers increasing their numbers and faring better

Among all employed Canadians in 2009, one out of six was an older worker (age 55 and over), up from one out of ten in 2000.

From 12% in 1976, the share of older workers fell below 10% during the 1990s before steadily increasing to new highs in the early 2000s.

The increase in employment and in labour force participation of older workers reflects a steady trend in population aging: in 2009 over one-quarter (26%) of Canada's population was 55 years old or over, up from 17% three decades ago.

Chart A Share of Canadian workers age 55 and over in employment and labour force

Table A Share of Canadian workers age 55 and over in employment and labour force

Over half (52.5%) of Canadian workers age 55 and over in 2009 were concentrated in five industries: trade, health, manufacturing, education, as well as professional, scientific and technical services. Women made up the vast majority of older workers in health and education (81% and 63% respectively).

Older workers are the only age group spared the impact of the recession; they actually registered a total gain of 127,500 jobs during the recent downturn, the vast majority of which (60%) were among women.

From October 2008 to December 2009 (seasonally adjusted data), the employment rate for older workers grew by 0.3 percentage points to 33.1%.

In contrast, youth (age 15 to 24) and core-age workers (25 to 54) experienced significant declines in their employment rate: -5 percentage points to 54.3%, and -2.3 points to 80.1% respectively. (The employment rate for a given group is the number employed in that group expressed as a percentage of the population for that group.)

A similar pattern persists for men and women in all three age groups: among older workers, women were net contributors to the gain, as their employment rate increased by 0.8 points compared with a 0.2-point decrease for men. Also, the employment rate fell 2.4 times faster among young men compared to their female counterparts, and 3.2 times faster among male core-age workers compared to women.

Chart B Distribution of older workers by industry, Canada, 2009

Table B Distribution of older workers by industry, Canada, 2009

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