Older workers have flooded into the job market since the recovery that began in the summer of 2009, TD Economics said Thursday, eclipsing other age groups in terms of gains made in the labour market.
The report said Canadians aged 60 years and over account for about one-third of all net job gains, "a striking figure considering they accounted for just eight per cent of the total labour force," said TD Economist Francis Fong, the author of the analysis.
Fong said the trend includes not only those in the 60-65 age range, but also those older than 70.
Employment among the 70-plus crowd increased by 55,000 positions, or 37 per cent, he said.
"Even more surprising is that almost 100,000 net jobs were added in the 60-plus age group at the depth of the recession," he said.
During the same period, younger workers — those 59 and under — suffered 500,000 net job losses over the same period.
Fong said the phenomenon is not isolated to Canada. Across advanced economies since 2000, workers aged 65 and older have steadily become "an increasingly vital part of the global labour market," he said.
His study suggested most of the job gains for older workers since the recovery began have been concentrated in service industries, including professional, scientific, and technical services and health care, but with the single biggest category being retail.
In fact, while jobs in the retail industry have yet to fully recover to pre-recession levels, employment among older workers in that sector has recorded a net gain of about 75,000 positions.
The federal government recently estimated that one third of older workers are employed on a part-time or temporary basis, or are self-employed. Fong’s study found upwards of two-thirds of older workers working part-time were doing so by choice.
By comparison, just 28 per cent of employees aged from 25 to 54 worked part-time as a matter of preference.
Fong admitted that there may be more older workers employed part-time because they have no choice.
"There are concerns that inadequate savings earlier on in life has led many to work in retirement to supplement their income. In no small part, this would have been exacerbated by the decline in retirement assets in the wake of the recent financial crisis," he said.
"This is a trend that could become more prominent in the coming generations. Savings rates among current middle-aged and younger Canadians are extremely low relative to previous generations and financial returns are not expected to reach the same heights as in the 1980s and 1990s."