BIG DECISIONS: The Nambucca LGA employment picture is changing as Baby Boomers near retirement.
BIG DECISIONS: The Nambucca LGA employment picture is changing as Baby Boomers near retirement. Gemima Harvey

Nambucca retirees may cause employment hiccup

CASE studies prepared by the Regional Australia Institute have alarms bells ringing as baby boomers living in the bush continue to age.

The main problem isn't a growth in the older population causing a need for more aged care beds.

Instead, the increase of people aged over 65 years means a shrinking workforce for many regional communities as large sections of the population reach retirement age.

Keeping these people in the workforce for as long as possible is likely to be a key priority for many regional economies in the years ahead.

Using data from the 2016 Census, the institute nominated the Nambucca Local Government Area for a case study.

People aged over 65 make up 24.4 per cent of the population with 20.6 per cent of those receiving a pension of some type.

However, in the 55-64 age group heading toward what is the accepted retirement age, 46.4 per cent remain engaged in the work force.

Full time employment accounts for 21.7 per cent of these with 18.4 per cent engaged part time.

On those statistics, over the coming decade their decision to finally put their feet up is going to leave a substantial gap in the knowledge and experience of the Valley's work force.

The institute's chief executive Jack Archer said this latest data showed now more than ever, a proactive approach to our ageing population was needed.

Particularly when almost a third of those surveyed said they intended to work until age 70 if that was possible.

"Longer life expectancy and better health outcomes means Australians are increasingly able to work for longer,” Archer said.

"Doing so can have enormous benefits to regional communities with the increase in consumption power from greater workforce participation among older residents being substantial.”