2020: Year of the ‘boomer burden’ » Media in Canada

2020: Year of the ‘boomer burden’

A new study by Pitney Bowes Business Insight identifies Saskatoon, SK, as the youngest metro area in Canada, while Kitchener, ON, is expecting a labour force boom in the next 10 years.

An aging population is a pervasive demographic trend the world over. In Canada, a new study by Toronto-based Pitney Bowes Business Insight (PBBI) finds that the ‘dependency ratio’ – the non-working population – will rise by about eight persons for every 100, while the ‘support ratio’ – the workers who support them – will decrease by 0.35 persons by 2010.

But PBBI wants to move beyond the numbers and break down the change in demo trends by location to determine who is moving where, what drove them there and how long they plan to stay.

‘Marketers and purveyors of media understand that people, individually, are getting older, but I think there’s an under-appreciation for the fact that there’s still a youthful [movement] of young families that’s very subtle,’ says Thomas G. Exter, chief demographer, PBBI.

For instance, Canada’s youngest metro centres are Saskatoon and Calgary, with average ages of 35.5 and 36 years, respectively.

‘We looked at income growth and population growth in Saskatoon, and it’s actually beginning to be on the radar for a lot of people. Being urbanites, we don’t necessarily think of Saskatoon, but the numbers are beginning to require some attention,’ Exter tells MiC.

Any economy that’s attracting a younger population means a higher labour force – those who make the money and support the non-working population. But perhaps more importantly for the economy, they also build houses, raise families and purchase consumer goods. Toronto will have the highest growth in terms of numbers with 316,279 more workers expected in the city by 2020, followed by Vancouver, with 138,940 more employees expected.

Surprisingly, the largest percentage growth projection in the labour force is Kitchener, ON – expected to grow by 13.6%. Looking behind the numbers Exter says this is a trend, with ‘secondary cities’ near large metros experiencing high growth rates.

‘There are things happening in the periphery of metro areas that are markets in their own right. A lot of employers have decided those are good locations for jobs,’ Exter says. ‘It may not be a large factory, but it might be small electronics assembly plant with a medium-sized employer along the QEW,’ he explains.

The largest population growth for by 2020 is expected in Calgary (13.9%), followed by Vancouver (13.7%), Toronto (11.6%), Ottawa (9.9%) and Montreal (9.7%). Growth trends are impacted by external and internal migration, says Exter, which can change the ethnic composition of major cities. Montreal, for instance, has experienced a population boom by immigrants from Columbia, while Toronto and Montreal continue to attract immigrants from India and China.

Internal migration tends to be more complicated – people initially move for jobs, as they did from the Maritimes to Alberta, but as the economy falters they’re either moving back home or are expected to stop over in Ontario.

‘People move for jobs primarily, and education and family secondarily. Then they stick around,’ he says.