Should seniors work more?

In my column today, I mention the potential of raising the retirement age in New Brunswick.  According to the data (I only have 2006 figures which are getting a little stale), New Brunswick only has slightly fewer people aged 55-64 earning employment income compared to the national average but from 65 years of age and older we rocket to the second lowest percentage of persons earning employment income in the country.

New Brunswick seniors have the second lowest median total income (from all sources) in the country.  I think we should find public policy tools (including raising the retirement age) to encourage more persons 65 to work as long as they are able to work.  I think a lot of NBers are retiring at 65 either because they have to or because they think that is what people age 65 do.  In the west, oer 30% of seniors are earning employment income. 

Having more persons 65 continue to work would help with our demographic crunch, it would raise the median income among seniors (note the direct correlation between % of seniors working and median total income) and would address in a small way some of the pension challenges.

Population Aged 65-74 with Employment Income (2006) & Median Total Income*

With Employment Income

Median Total Income




Newfoundland and Labrador



Prince Edward Island



Nova Scotia



New Brunswick


















British Columbia



*As a percentage of those reporting any type of income.  Source: Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 111-0035.

3 thoughts on “Should seniors work more?

  1. Interesting post, but unless I’m mistaken it’s actually ILLEGAL to FORCE somebody to retire at 65. I”m pretty sure there was a court case that decided that and I know several over 65ers who are still working because of that court case. That’s both good and bad because in a university setting they are taking up room and I know a lot of PHD’s who are giving up on the idea of faculty jobs because there is just no room.

    That’s one thing that high tech community colleges are good for, because often the teachers retire and then just teach one or two courses. Or in many cases they have industry contacts and they teach courses within companies, or help design internal training programs.

    In NB, you’ve posted the company sectors with the most employment and few of those would really be helped by seniors. In the public sector they are trying to get rid of people now, forget teachers, new teachers are cheaper and are usually more up to date. In the medical community they of course want to keep doctors, but not nurses, and most nurses are lucky to make it to 65. My mother was an OR nurse back in the day and it was interesting that she pointed out that of all the nurses she worked with, all are dead but one. They USED to work in anaesthitic filled rooms (the conditions have changed since then I’m told).

    In the private sector, I don’t know about there, but virtually all the retail jobs-in fast food particularly, are all elderly people. Whats interesting is that asian and ethnic restaurants always have young asian workers, but places like Wendy’s, Burger King, etc., always have older people. Maybe its a tipping thing.

    One thing I”m quite sure of is that I know a LOT of seniors in NB, and while they don’t get paid, they DO work-volunteer work, and a lot of it. My parents, out of the goodness of their heart, are playing a big part in helping raise a divorce mother’s children-and run a business. And I have noticed that at various charity events blogged by Charles that there is a LOT of turnout at these events. THOUSANDS of people were at the PEI bridge for some walk. I go to events here in Waterloo, with an immediate population of over half a million, and you cannot get any kind of turnout for local events.

    So don’t confuse ‘not getting paid’ with ‘not working’. With the community service my parents put in, they’d be making a pretty good wage. In churches its even moreso. So this may well be a ‘cultural issue’ or perhaps an issue where non profits are taking undue advantage or the government is welching on the ‘public’ service. However, it WOULD be interesting to know how many jobs are going unfilled for whatever reason, and whether there are people sitting on their butts who could do them. Keep in mind also that in the private sector you are looking at a high percentage of resource jobs-jobs that require REAL work, not sitting on butts. My dad HAD to retire early-and not because somebody was FORCING him to, they BEGGED him to stay. But he did military service and worked a tough job. I remember researching the welfare issue in NB and it always ticked me off how people were griping about ‘deadbeats’-but if you look at the data a very high percentage of the people who CAN”T work is because of an injury obtained at work. With the seemingly HUGE number of autistic kids and other problem kids, it makes me wonder whether there’s soon going to be an entire generation that simply CAN”T work.

  2. Do you have any statistics on how many people would actually continue to work after 65 if the age was increased? I attended a lecture last year by an economist who claimed that that number was in the 1% of potential retirees range.

  3. “New Brunswick seniors have the second lowest median total income (from all sources) in the country.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’d suppose that many of those low-income NB seniors had blue-collar jobs that involved significant amounts of physical labor. Quite a few of them are living in rural areas. Would they be physically able to continue working at those jobs (assuming the job was still there)? I’d guess that, in order to continue working, many would have to relocate to urban areas and find minimum-wage work that was physically undemanding.

    We are not going to see a lot of economic expansion in NB over the next few years; there will be a lot of competition for those low-wage jobs. I would not develop social policies that were made on assumptions about low-income NB seniors re-entering the workforce in large numbers.

    Seniors who would otherwise be retiring from high-wage jobs might be encouraged to continue working; the net effect of that, however, would be to increase the income differential between those seniors and the blue-collar retirees.

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