Self-Employment on the Rise in Canada, Particularly Among Seniors

Canada now hosts an increasing number of self-employed workers.

One quarter of new Canadian jobs in 2013 were self-employed positions, according to workforce statistics from Scotiabank in a report by

This marks a distinct surge of 1.7% growth, as self-employment only accounts for 15% of the entire workforce.  Paid employment has risen 1.3% in the same period.

The report reveals that older Canadians are more likely to pursue self-employment. There are currently 2.7 million self-employed people in Canada, the majority of whom are over 35, while a full third of self-employed workers  are over 65.  Less than 10% of self-employed Canadians are in the 25-34 age range.

The fastest-growing areas of self-employment include:

  • Service-based activities (finance, real estate, etc.)
  • Professional and technical services
  • Business services
  • Health care
  • Education

Among the industries that currently host the highest shares and absolute numbers of self-employed workers are:

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Professional and business services
  • Construction
  • Retail-wholesale
  • Health care

While retail ranks among the industries with the highest absolute counts of self-employed workers, self-employment in traditional retail and manufacturing is lagging due to highly competitive markets, both at home and abroad.

The majority of self-employed workers (60%) are unincorporated, and 86% of them go lone wolf, without hiring any employees. The remaining 40% own incorporated businesses.  Of them, about half hire employees.

Rather than being a portent of economic doom, the increase in self-employment suggests improved confidence in the Canadian economy, according to  Changes in taxation and regulation may have encouraged more workers to incorporate, while lifestyle changes like the desire for more flexible work hours may have contributed to this upswing in self-employment in Canada.

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