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Perspectives on Labour and Income - August 2007

Participation of older workers

Katherine Marshall and Vincent Ferrao

  • Over the last decade the proportion of older workers (those aged 55 to 64) has risen, with 6 in 10 employed or looking for work in 2006. This group represented 12% of the labour force (2.1 million).
  • The main thrust behind the upward trend is women's labour force participation rate, which rose from 38% to 62% between 1976 and 2006 for those aged 55 to 59, and from 24% to 37% for those aged 60 to 64.
  • One in 4 older workers is self-employed and 1 in 5 works part time. Part-time work is one of the few job characteristics that is notably different for older and core-aged workers (those aged 25 to 54), suggesting transitional changes before retirement.
  • Two-thirds of older workers who work part time do so from choice compared with only 28% of core-aged, part-time workers.

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Katherine Marshall is with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. She can be reached at 613-951-6890. Vincent Ferrao is with the Labour Statistics Division. He can be reached at 613-951-4750. Both authors can be reached at

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