A new report from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC) says the region’s aging population is having a “dramatic” effect on its labour market. The January 2021 report says 30 years ago, for every 10 retirees, there were 20 young workers entering the job market. Today, it’s just seven.
Fred Bergman, APEC senior policy analyst, says immigration will play a key role in filling the labour needs of the aging workforce, especially for rural areas.
“There will be gaps moving forward,” he says. “We know it’s an important part of the [COVID-19] economic recovery as well.”
Bergman says employers will also need to attract and develop younger talent, attract workers from traditionally underrepresented groups (such as people with disabilities, Black Nova Scotians and Indigenous people), and invest in technological upgrades to boost workers’ output and allow for more automation.
Bergman says another option is for governments, employers and other stakeholders to consider making policy changes to such things as pensions, tax brackets and tax credits to help entice older employees to stay in the workforce longer.
“You’re going to have to get creative,” he says.
The aging workforce could complicate business owners’ exit strategies. The report says during the next two decades, about 25,000 Atlantic businesses could be looking for new owners. APEC projects that by 2040, there will be three seniors for every two young people in the region.
The report cites three reasons for the aging population: declining birth rates, rising life expectancy and an aging baby boomer cohort.