More over 50s in jobs that match their skills

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Saga’s latest employment indices clearly shows that the changes to state pension age are having a profound effect on the number of women aged 50-64 who are remaining economically active, however for women the steepest fall can be seen in workers 65 or older where there are now 53,000 fewer women In employment when compared to the previous quarter.

More over 50s in jobs that match their skills

Furthermore, the over 50s are not just making up and increasing their share of overall employment, the jobs they are taking are becoming better matched to their qualifications.  With the share of those aged 50-64 whose qualifications were deemed to be well matched to those typically seen across their job role stood at 67.3% in the final quarter of 2015 an increase from the 61.2% recorded in the final quarter of 2002. 

 

Saga’s head of communications Lisa Harris said “It’s great to see that the valuable contribution of older workers to a balanced workforce is being recognised. This month’s employment figures show that there has been a marked increase in the number of over 50s who have seen that their jobs are better matched to their qualifications – which is great news for older workers.”

  

Key points:

 

  • The UK-wide unemployment rate (for persons aged 16 and over) held steady for the third consecutive reading, at 5.1% between December – February 2016. This compares to the 5.6% recorded over the same period a year earlier.  
    • In contrast, the unemployment rate for those aged 50-64 rose from 3.4% to 3.6%.   

 

  • The latest data for the three months to February 2016 showed the largest reduction in female employment since the middle of 2011. Within this drop, employment of women aged:
    • 16-17 fell by 1,000 or 0.5%
    • 18-24 fell by 8,000 or 0.5%
    • 25-34 fell by 22,000 or 0.7%
    • 35-49 rose by 17,000 or 0.3%
    • 50-64 rose by 27,000 or 0.7%
    • 65 or older dropped dramatically, with 53,000 fewer women in employment – some 11% down on the previous quarter.

  • While employment of women over the age of 65 has dropped significantly in recent months, Figure 1 illustrates that the contribution of the over 50s to the job market has been rising steadily. Over the past five years, the total number of people in employment in the UK has grown by 6.7%, with employment for the over 50s rising faster than for younger workers. Over this time, the number of workers aged:
    • 65 or older has risen from 888,000 in the three months to February 2011 to 1.17 million over December – February 2016, a very pronounced rise of 31.8% or 282,000 employees.
    • 50-64 has risen from 7.42 million in the three months to February 2011 to 8.41 million over December – February 2016, an increase of 13.3% or just under 1 million employees.
    • 16-49 has increased by 3.3% or 696,000 employees, from 21.14 million to 21.83 million. 

 

  • The number of workers who are 50 or older has been rising steadily. Five years ago, some 8.31 million UK workers were 50 or older in the three months to February 2011. That figure had risen to 9.58 million over the three months to February 2016.

  • Figure 2 illustrates that the over 50s’ share of UK employment is continuing to rise. Over the three months to February 2016, we calculate that:
    • 69.5% of all employed people were 49 or younger, down from 69.9% one year previously.
    • 26.8% of all employed people were in the 50-64 age bracket, up from 26.3% one year earlier.

 

  • Employment is not a zero-sum game and the over 50s have not been squeezing young people out of the job market. The number of employed over 50s is far lower than the number of employed 16-49-year-olds. Over December – February 2016, there were 8.41 million employed 50-64-year-olds, versus 8.18 million one year earlier. This compares to 21.83 million employed 16-49-year-olds over December – February 2016, versus 21.70 million over the same period in 2015.

 

  • Figure 3 shows that economic activity[1] amongst 50-64-year-olds has been gradually trending upward compared to economic activity amongst 18-24-year-olds, which has been generally flat. The economic activity rate amongst 50-64-year-olds is now above that of 18-24-year-olds. Over the three months to February 2016, we calculate that:
    • 72.7% of 50-64-year-olds were economically active.
    • This was above the 71.1% economic activity rate of people aged 18-24.
    • 85.8% of those in the 25-34 age bracket were economically active.
    • 86.5% of those in the 35-49 age bracket were economically active.

 

  • The over 50s are not just making up and increasing share of overall employment, the jobs they are taking are becoming better matched to their qualifications.

 

  • While the cohort effect[2] makes it difficult to compare across different age groups and can have an effect on the shares over time, the share of those aged 50-64 whose qualifications were deemed to be well matched to those typically seen across their job role stood at 67.3% in the final quarter of 2015. This is a notable increase from the 61.2% recorded in the final quarter of 2002. 



[1] A person is classified as economically active if they are in employment; defined as people who did some paid work in the reference week; those who had a job that they were temporarily away from (eg, on holiday); those on government-supported training and employment programmes, or unemployed; defined as those people without a job who were available to start work in the two weeks following their interview and who had either looked for work in the four weeks prior to interview or were waiting to start a job they had already obtained.

[2] The statistical method, by its construction, permits the average job requirement to increase across all occupations if participation in education and the average level of educational attainment in the population increases. The effect on the degree of matching across the whole economy is therefore dependent on the age composition of each occupational group and the distribution of older and younger workers across occupations. For example, as older people leave the labour market – other things being equal – this will tend to increase the average job requirement level for the whole economy, and reduce the percentage of the labour market that are classified as undereducated.

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