Over 50s employment up but the effects are not evenly distributed throughout the regions

Wednesday 18 May 2016

As the latest employment figures suggest that there is a general cooling-off in the employment market, the growth in employment of those aged 50 or older continues to outpace the overall growth across many of the regions of the UK over the last 12 months.

Over 50s employment up but the effects are not evenly distributed throughout the regions

However, the increase in the numbers of over 50s in work is not evenly distributed throughout the UK. Wales and the East Midlands led this rise in over 50s employment with annual increases of 12.9% (+55,000) and 4.4% (+31,000) respectively; whilst over 50s employment has fallen on a year-on-year basis in Yorkshire and Humber, the East and the South East.

 

Head of communications Lisa Harris commented “It’s great to see that the value of older workers is really being valued by employers, with more over 50s in work and an increase in the numbers of those who remain in jobs that meet their qualifications and skills.

 

“However, we cannot overlook the fact that, those who find themselves out of work in their 50s still find it significantly harder to get back into work compared to the rest of the working age population. We believe that the government should give serious consideration to NI breaks for companies that employ the long-term unemployed of all ages.”

 

Key points:

 

  • The UK-wide unemployment rate (for persons aged 16 and over) held steady for the fourth consecutive reading, at 5.1% over the course of the first quarter of 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 slightly from 3.6% to 3.7%.   
  • However, there are clear regional differences across the UK in the employment prospects for those that are aged 50 and above.
  • Figure 3 illustrates the regional employment growth for workers who are 50 or older.
    • The growth in employment of those aged 50 or older outpaced the overall growth across many of the regions of the UK over the last 12 months.  
    • Wales and the East Midlands led this rise in over 50s employment with annual increases of 12.9% (+55,000) and 4.4% (+31,000) respectively.
    • However, over 50s employment has fallen on a year-on-year basis in Yorkshire and Humber, the East and the South East.
  • There are also differences in long-term unemployment across the regions of the UK. Figure 4 shows that the percentage of those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for over 12 months and therefore classed as long-term unemployed is higher for the over 50s age group compared with the working population as a whole in every region of the UK.
    • The shares of unemployed people aged over 50 that were classed as long-term unemployed were highest in Northern Ireland and the West Midlands at 47% and 41% respectively.
    • These compare with 37% and 35% of all unemployed workers in Northern Ireland and the West Midlands classed as long-term unemployed.
  • Worryingly, Figure 4 shows that, across the UK, the over 50s who find themselves out of work are finding it harder to get back into employment compared with the rest of the working population.
  • 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 7.3%, 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 889,000 in the first quarter of 2011 to 1.18 million in Q1 2016, a very pronounced rise of 33.1% or 294,000 employees.
    • 50-64 has risen from 7.42 million in the first quarter of 2011 to 8.44 million in Q1 2016, an increase of 13.8% or just over 1 million employees.
    • 16-49 has increased by 3.9% or 822,000 employees, from 21.14 million to 21.96 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 first quarter of 2011. That figure had risen to 9.62 million in Q1 2016.
  • Figure 2 illustrates that the over 50s’ share of UK employment is continuing to rise. Over the course of the first quarter of 2016, we calculate that:
    • 69.5% of all employed people were 49 or younger, down from 70.0% one year previously.
    • 26.7% of all employed people were in the 50-64 age bracket, up from 26.4% one year earlier.

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