Up until this month, ONS had been reporting employment rates for older people based on State Pension Age, ie women over 60, and men over 65. However, now that we are facing changes to the age at which people can start to draw their Pension, ONS are using the new measure of 65+ for both sexes.
As the chart shows (click to enlarge), economic activity rates for ‘pensioners’ have been rising steadily over the period of the recession whilst they’ve been pretty flat for younger age groups.
Whilst on the face of it this may seem to be good news, we still face some major challenges.
We currently have almost 3 million people aged between 50 and current Pension Age who are out of work†, costing the UK economy over £72 billion a year.
Since August 2008, the number of unemployed over 50s has risen by 51%, compared with 36% for the under 50s†.
A disproportionate number of over 50s are becoming long-term unemployed, and the prospects of re-employment are not encouraging for the huge number of public sector workers who are projected to lose their jobs over the next few years.
A combination of demographic change and changes to State Pension Age will bring an estimated 3.6 million extra older people into the workforce over the next 20 years, but unless steps are taken to address the higher levels of worklessness experienced by the 50+ age group, only half of these workers will have jobs. For the others, we may be simply shifting them from drawing their State Pensions to claiming an ou-of-work benefit.
At this time when Government is putting together the specifications for the new single Work Programme to tackle unemployment, we cannot afford to miss the opportunity to build in tailored, effective measures to help a significant number of the 3 million workless over-50s back to work.
With almost one-in-five of the over 50s who are in work being self-employed††, these measures must include help to make the transition from employment or unemployment to self-employment.
†source: ONS Labour Market Statistical Bulletin July 2010
††source: ONS Annual Population Survey, September 2009
Director of Development
This article was taken from Prime