[Chronique de Gérard Bérubé] older workforce

The Quebec labor force is always older. However, the participation of 55-69 year olds in the labor market continues to grow over the years, only to quickly come up against a perceived interest in retirement.

Admittedly, the aging of the workforce in Quebec is not a new phenomenon, but it is reaching a critical threshold. The ratio of the number of people aged 15 to 29 compared to that of people aged 55 and over has never been so low, highlights the Institute of Statistics of Quebec (ISQ). “In 2021, we expect[ait] approximately one person aged 15 to 29 in employment for one person aged 55 and over in employment. In the mid-1980s, this ratio was four. »

In another analysis, this time focusing on participation in the labor market by age group, the ISQ indicated in particular that, of the three age groups selected for the purposes of the study, that of those aged 55 and over is the only one that experienced population growth between the fourth quarters of 2019 and 2021.

That said, on the other hand, the activity rate of experienced workers has not stopped growing in 20 years. That of 55-59 year olds rose from 55.1% to 77.6% between 2001 and 2021 and that of 60-64 year olds, from 29.6% to 53.6%. In the cohort of 65-69 year olds, it fluctuates around 22% against some 8% in 2001. But the fact remains that this rate drops sharply from the age of 60, a slide that many employers would like to reverse in a context of shortage labor force, and that this activity rate for 60 to 69 year olds is higher in Ontario. There, it reaches 60% in the 60-64 age segment and 30% in the 65-69 age stratum.

The ISQ indicated on Monday that there were approximately 252,000 vacant positions in Quebec in the second quarter, an increase of more than 30% compared to the corresponding quarter of 2021, 5.5% compared to the first quarter of 2022. vacancy rate [soit le nombre de postes vacants exprimé en pourcentage de la demande de travail] in Quebec stood at 6.3% in the second quarter of 2022, compared to 5.2% a year earlier. »

Increased female participation

Interestingly, beyond the demographic shock that is intended to be pronounced in Quebec, the aging of the workforce certainly reflects an increased participation of 55-69 year olds in the labor market, which we measure however more so in women. “Over the past twenty years, the activity rate has in fact increased by nearly 30 percentage points among women aged 55 to 59, by 28 points among those aged 60 to 64 and by 12 points among those aged 65 to 69,” writes the ISQ.

Another peculiarity, if the activity rate of 55 to 59 year olds is 73% for women and 82% for men in 2021, the gap then widens among 60-64 year olds, where it reaches 46%. among women and 62% among men. It is around 18% and 29% respectively in the 65-69 age segment.

Early retirement

A quick glance at retirement prospects to observe that the majority of people aged 45 and over plan to leave the labor market permanently at age 65 or later, but that approximately 30% of them plan to leave at 60 years old or before, according to data from 2018. And the ISQ adds that « women will be more likely than men to leave earlier, since around a third of them plan to leave the job market permanently. work at age 60 or earlier, compared to less than a quarter for men”.

These workers who say they plan to retire definitively before age 65 are recruited among people with better education, vocational, technical or university training, with an income of $79,000 or more, who hold a job in the public sector or covered by a collective agreement. We can therefore assume that the presence of a supplementary pension plan, with defined benefits for the majority, has a definite influence on retirement intentions.

Another nod to employers, the results of the ISQ study show that having very high job satisfaction (a score of 9 or 10 on a scale of 10) is more associated with later departures. Also according to 2018 data, « about 70% of those with such satisfaction indicated that they planned to retire fully after age 65, compared to 60% of those with a score of 8 out of 10 and 54% of those with less satisfaction [score de 7 sur 10 ou moins] « .

Finally, remember that this aging of the workforce is based on the entrenchment of incentives over the years. We are thinking of the possible postponement of the start of payment of the Old Age Security pension and the pension from the Quebec Pension Plan, which considerably increases the deferred benefits. Also to the changes made to the tax system to strengthen the incentive for older people to stay in work receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement and including the tax credit for career extension, a measure implemented in Quebec in 2012.

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