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Economy in Brief

Canada Employment Eases in December, But Only in Elderly Age Group
by Carol Stone January 6, 2006

Canada's labor market was fairly firm in 2005, despite a modest reversal in employment for December, data for which were published this morning by Statistics Canada. In December, employment fell by 2,100 from November, but both November and October had good gains, so that Q4 as a whole added 97,000 jobs, the best since Q2 2004. Consequently, unemployment in Canada has come down. The 6.4% in November was the lowest since December 1974, with this December's 6.5% still the lowest since early 1975.

The age distribution of employment in December suggests that the slight reversal in total employment should have only limited overall economic impact. Jobs still increased in the major livelihood-earning segment, ages 15-64, with the decline more than accounted for among the elderly population. The former mid-range group increased in all but one month of 2005; the gains were not as large as in some months of the prior couple of years, but they were clearly steadier.

For the elderly population, the last four years have seen remarkable job growth accompanying a major increase in labor force participation. We can calculate a participation rate for the population over 65 and find that it has risen from 6% of that population in 2000 and 2001 to 8% in 2005. At the same time, the growth of that population group turned upward from a long, secular decline, bottoming at 1.56% in the year to January 2000 and reaching 2.17% in the year to December 2005. So the population is growing and so are employment opportunities for this age group. This process paused in November and December, but we'd surmise that it will resume soon.

Canada
(SA, Thous or %)
Dec 2005 Nov 2005 Oct 2005 Dec 2004 2005 2004 2003
Employment, Age 15+ 16,296 16,298 16,267 16,063 16,175 15,952 15,664
  -2 31 69 1.4% 1.4% 1.8% 2.3%
Age 15-64 15,988 15,974 15,943 15,763 15,868 15,664 15,393
  14 31 51 1.4% 1.3% 1.8% 2.1%
Age 65+ 307 323 324 300 307 287 271
  -16 -1 18 2.4% 6.8% 5.9% 13.8%
Unemployment Rate, Age 15+ 6.5% 6.4% 6.6% 7.0% 6.8% 7.2% 7.6%
Age 15-64 6.6% 6.4% 6.8% 7.2% 6.8% 7.3% 7.7%
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