People 55 and older had the fastest annual rate of employment growth in 2016 (+146,000 or +4.1%).This reflects population shifts related to the baby-boomer cohort, which began transitioning into the 55 and over age group around the turn of the 21st century. Both the population and employment growth rates for people 55 and older have exceeded the national growth rates since 1996. People 55 and older comprised about 21% of the total labour force in 2016, up from about 10% in the 1990s.
The employment rate for people 55 and older rose to 35.5% in 2016—its highest level since comparable data became available in 1976. Employment rates vary markedly within this group, with peopled aged 55 to 59 working at a rate of 70.9% and people aged 60 to 64 working at a rate of 51.0%, before declining to 24.9% for those 65 to 69 and 7.0% for those aged 70 and over.
Among people 55 and older, women had the largest employment increase in 2016, up 90,000 (+5.6%) compared with 57,000 (+2.8%) for men. The unemployment rate for men in this group rose 0.5 percentage points to 6.7%, as employment grew at a slower pace than their labour force. Among women aged 55 and older, the unemployment rate remained at 5.2% as both the labour force and employment for this group grew at the same pace.