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Younger and older workers in Alberta: A comparison

Younger and older workers in Alberta: A comparison

Posted on: 11/7/2018 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team


The number of young Albertans aged 15 to 24 who are either employed or looking for work has shrunk at an average rate of more than three per cent for the past three years. As of October, there were 323,600 Albertans in this age group either employed or looking for work. The last time the youth labour force was this low was in 2003.

Comparatively, the labour force for those 55 and older has grown at an average rate of 3.2 per cent over the same three year period. Last month, there were 501,100 Albertans aged 55 or over in the labour force, the highest level on record.

There are several explanations for why this is happening.

For younger Albertans, there may be a perception that it’s more difficult for them to find jobs in today’s economy. This perception may have more to do with their perceived quality of jobs rather than the quantity available. If a recent college grad takes a job pouring cappuccinos, they may feel underemployed. To avoid this feeling of underemployment, young workers may be holding out for a role that is a better fit. Younger Albertans may also be experiencing higher levels of support than previous generations, giving them more flexibility to make decisions about work.

The story is different for older Albertans. Many are not retiring as early as they used to. Older workers nearing retirement may have found that they don’t have enough saved for their retirement and, as a result, are staying in the workforce for financial reasons, against their preference. On the flipside, it could be that some older Albertans are healthier than previous generations and they’re just not ready to retire. Either of these scenarios could be a barrier for young people entering the workforce.

Labour Force, Oct'18, graph

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