Median age of workers surpasses 40 for first time, census shows

The Canadian workforce has slipped into middle age, according to census figures released yesterday.

The median age of the labour force surpassed 40 for the first time in 2006, rising from 39.5 in 2001 to 41.2 in 2006. In the Toronto region it was 40.6.


It isn’t all about boomers approaching retirement age — the trend is fuelled in part by the increasing tendency of older workers to participate in the work force.

"People work till they drop," said Margaret Hawthorn, council member of the Older Women’s Network. "There’s a large number of Canadians who don’t have private pensions, and to save enough in an RRSP, you’re going to have to have a million dollars."

Many older professional women — real estate agents, lawyers and professors — happily work past the age of 65, but others have to take low-paying retail jobs or babysit to make ends meet on a government pension that tops out at around $13,000 a year, says Hawthorn.

Margrit Eichler, a professor in sociology and equity studies in education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, is one of the lucky ones. She turned 65 last year, but plans to keep working part time until she is 68 because she loves what she does.

The figures also showed fewer young people are entering the workforce to replace retiring baby boomers.

Across Canada, there were 1.9 entrants to the labour force aged 20-34 for every person over 55 on his or her way out. Five years ago, there were 2.7 entrants for every potential retiree and 25 years ago, the figure was 3.7 entrants.

women in sales

  • Among women, sales continued to be the biggest sector by far, employing 400,000. The second biggest occupation for women was cashiers, which employed 255,5000 women in 2006. Third was registered nurses, at 249,400.

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