Older Workers Lift Canada Job Numbers, Smashing Expectations

18 Mar 2013

Immigration News

Sometimes age and experience can pay off.

In Canada, as in many other countries, an aging population can face financial uncertainty as it heads toward retirement.

But for now, older workers are in big demand in the workplace.

Canada’s see-sawing labour force swung back into job-creation mode in February, with a net 50,700 people finding work. Most of those new hires were aged 55 or older — continuing a trend from January.

“This a actually typical of business cycles,” said Craig Alexander, chief economists at TD Economics.

“People are living longer, healthier lives. That means they can stay in labour market longer.”

He says it is a demographic story but also true that “workers with more skills and more experience have better labour market outcomes.”

The data at a glance

Here’s a quick look at February unemployment (previous month in brackets):

  • Unemployment rate: 7.0% (7.0)
  • Number unemployed: 1,332,600 (1,322,800)
  • Number working: 17,696,400 (17,645,700)
  • Youth (15-24 years) unemployment: 13.6% (13.5)
  • Men (25 plus) unemployment: 6.0% (6.1)
  • Women (25 plus) unemployment: 5.6% (5.5)

Work prospects for youths tend to diminish during a recession because businesses pull back on hiring.

“But when businesses start to hire, there are unemployed workers who actually have work experience that others don’t have,” said Mr. Alexander.

Friday’s employment report from Statistics Canada also confounded analysts who were looking for only meagre gains in February, accompanied by a small rise in the jobless rate.

Instead, the unemployment rate remained at 7% last month, the lowest level since December 2008 when the rate was 6.8%. Those new jobs, mainly in the private sector, were distributed equally between full-time and part-time positions.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters Friday in Ottawa that “we’re at a situation now in Canada that we have gained almost one million net new jobs since the end of the recession in July 2009.”

In Canada, analysts had forecast only 8,000 new jobs in February, with the unemployment rate edging back up to 7.1%.

In January, the economy lost 21,900 positions and surprised economists who had called for an increase in employment of 5,000 during that month. In December, there was a jump of 31,200 jobs, following 56,300 new hires in November.

January’s unemployment rate, however, eased to 7% from 7.1% the previous month.

Statistic Canada said 29,200 private-sector jobs were added in February, compared with an increase 9,400 public-sector positions.

The majority of new positions, 38,600, were salaried jobs, while 12,000 were self-employed.

“Among people aged 55 and over, employment increased for the second consecutive month, up 32,000 in February, and mostly among men,” the federal agency said.

Jacqueline Palladini, an economist at the Conference Board of Canada, said there are a combination of things that can lead to that.

“One component is that the population is aging,” she said. “Another reason is that the jobs are often in the service industries. As people age, and they gain more experienced, they are able to apply that in the service industries.”

But looking at those aged 25 to 54, there was little change in February from a year earlier. The employment picture for those between 15 and 24 was also mainly flat, with unemployment running at 13.6%.

“The youth market is always hurt most during downturns. It’s also the last to recover,” said TD’s Mr. Alexander.

By sector, industry jobs overall rose by 50,700, while construction gained 15,800 and professional, scientific and technical service added 26,200.

The accommodation and food services sector had 21,100 more workers last month, coming at the end of the lockout of players by the National Hockey League in January.

The manufacturing sector lost 25,600 jobs last month and there were 12,100 fewer workers in educational service.



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