Statistics Canada came out with the numbers today – based on the 2011 census – and the figures only confirmed the trends I’ve been commenting about in The New Old and Beyond Age Rage. You’ll be seeing a flood of articles today and in the week or so ahead, about what it all means. Here are some of the nuggets I’ve gleaned from the Stats Canada report so far:
– In 1991, 28.6% of the people in what is called the “working age population” (age 15 to 64) fell into the 45-64 age group. In 2011, the percentage was 42.4% – a record high.
– Between 2006 and 2011, the number of people over the age of 65 (seniors) jumped by 14.1% – more than double the 5.9% increase for the Canadian population as a whole. And the number of children aged 14 and under increased by only 0.5%.
– Another way of looking at those same numbers is to view them as a percentage of the total population. Seniors now account for 14.8% of the population – a record high – and up from 13.7% in 2006. By contrast, children aged 14 and under now account for only 16.7% of the total population, down from 17.7% in 2006.
– All the way back to 1921, Statistics Canada computed the ratio of people aged 15 to 14 (i.e., about to enter or just entering the labour force) to people aged 55 to 64 (i.e., about to leave the labour force). In 1921, the ratio was 2.95 – that is, there were almost three times as many people in the younger group than in the older group. It jumped to 2.95 in 1931, and was at 2 or higher (technically, 1.99 in 1951) for every census up to and including 1981. Then it started dropping. Today, it’s only 0.99 – an all-time record low.
Of course the phrase “about to leave the labour force” is not exactly precise any more – as record numbers of boomers and seniors keep working past the “traditional” retirement age of 65. Nevertheless, if there are more “older” people at or near retirement than “younger” people coming into the labour force, this could represent positive news for the beleaguered millennials, who may indeed (finally!) benefit from a shortage of workers. The question is, when will this kick in and how strong will it be?
Expect demographers, marketers, policy wonks and commentators like yours truly to continue to pore over the data and find (or imagine they are finding) important new truths. I’ll do my best to report all of these as quickly as they turn up!