TORONTO — Canada is facing a wave of retirements from workers in high-pressure sectors, with more people retiring before the age of 65.
According to a new analysis of labor force survey data by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), 73,000 people left the workforce in the year ending August 2022, a 32% increase compared to the previous year.
Two-thirds of these over-retirees belonged to four industries: health care, construction, retail, education and social assistance.
Senior economist David McDonald said it’s very rare to see this level of retirees. But a closer look at some of the industries in question shows that workers are probably retiring sooner than planned due to burnout, stress, and the hardships of the ongoing pandemic.
The number of retirees is expected to rise gradually as baby boomers retire, but McDonald’s said 2022 will see a clear spike.
“It’s become a short-term trend because it’s so focused on a few specific areas,” he said.
A wave of retirements began in early 2022, McDonald’s found. By April 2022, annual health care retirees nearly doubled, surpassing him by 19,000 retirees compared to a year ago.
McDonald said this probably means there will be a wave of highly skilled nurses leaving the profession due to burnout two years after the pandemic.
Canada’s most populous province is also experiencing a wave of retirements, accounting for 66% of excess retirements in the year ending August despite making up less than 40% of the Canadian workforce. Many teachers have retired. His two-thirds of the extra retirees in education were in Ontario.
Teaching retirement led the trend for the academic year ending in August. Of his 73,000 additional retirees, his 21,000 were in educational services.
Ontario’s public sector wage hikes are limited by Bill 124, which may be a factor in health and education officials deciding they’ve had enough, McDonald said.
“There is a breaking point,” he said.
“These professions have not returned to normal. 2019 is very different.”
In the year ending June, retail retirements peaked at 13,000 more. Construction saw a surge in retirements in July.
Baby boomers aren’t the only ones contributing to this wave. McDonald said a surprising number of his workers under the age of 65 are retiring early.
The largest age group to retire in August 2021 was 65-69 years old, accounting for 38% of all retirees. A year later, this group made up his 33% of retiring workers, and the next youngest group of workers aged 60 to 64 rose his 3 percentage points to 31%. Retirees aged 55 to 59 also increased.
“People are retiring not because they’ve reached 65, but for other reasons,” McDonald said.
There was also a wave of retirements early in the pandemic as many workers decided to retire early instead of experiencing unemployment.
A similar thing could happen in some sectors, such as finance and real estate, if Canada were to go into recession, McDonald said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 30, 2022.
Rosa Saba, Canadian Press