New report reveals unemployment rate for over 50s falls

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Saga's latest employment analysis reveals that for those aged 50-64 the unemployment rate in the three months to February 2017 fell to 3.2%, down from 3.6% in the same period a year earlier to its lowest point since the three months to April 2015.

Saga Employment Report for April 2017

                                                          

Key points:

  • The rate of unemployment across the UK stood at 4.7% in the December 2016 to February 2017 period, unchanged from the three months to January, remaining at its lowest point since 1975.
  • The unemployment rate is down 0.4 percentage points from the 5.1% recorded in the same period a year earlier. The steady downward trend for unemployment is promising with the jobless rate having last risen in May 2015.

  • In the three months to February 2017, the total number of people in work increased by 39,000 compared to the previous three-month period and stands at 31.8 million.
  • For those aged 50-64, the unemployment rate in the three months to February 2017 fell to 3.2%, down from 3.6% in the same period a year earlier to its lowest point since the three months to April 2015.
  • 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 8.2%, with employment for the over 50s rising faster than that for younger workers. Over this period, the number of workers aged:
    • 65 or older has risen from 888,000 in the three months to February 2012 to 1.17 million in the same period of 2017, a significant rise of 32.1% or 285,000 employees.
    • 50-64 has risen from 7.48 million in the three months to February 2012 to 8.68 million in the three months to February 2017, an increase of 16.1% or around 1.17 million employees.
    • 16-49 has grown by just under 1 million employees, increasing 4.6% from 21.0 million to 22.0 million.
  • Employment is not a zero-sum game, and an increasing number of over 50s in employment does not squeeze younger workers out of the labour market.
  • Figure 3 shows long-term unemployment for different age brackets, showing that the share of jobless people who are long-term unemployed[1] has fallen significantly over the past year from 27.5% to 25.0% in the three months to February 2017.
  • This decline has been driven by falling long-term unemployment for both those aged 16-49 and those aged over 50.
  • The share of unemployed over 50s who are long-term unemployed has fallen over the past year from 41.7% to 37.0% in the three months to February 2017, with the total number of long-term unemployed over 50s falling to 138,000 in the three months to February 2017 compared to 138,000 a year earlier.
  • For those aged 16-49, long-term unemployment has also fallen, from 24.0% to 22.1% over the same time-frame. The trend for all ages of less people who are long-term unemployment indicates that people are finding it easier to return to the job market.

  • Also promisingly, Figure 4 shows that economic activity[2] amongst 50-64-year-olds has been gradually gaining momentum over the past five years.
  • In comparison, economic activity amongst 18-24-year-olds has been generally flat. The economic activity rate amongst 50-64-year-olds is now noticeably above that of 18-24-year-olds.
  • Over the three months to February 2017, we calculate that:
    • 73.2% of 50-64-year-olds were economically active.
    • This was above the 70.6% economic activity rate of people aged 18-24.
    • 86.1% of those in the 25-34 age bracket were economically active.
    • 86.7% of those in the 35-49 age bracket were economically active.
    • 10.7% of those in the 65 or older age bracket were economically active.
  • Although lower than that of other age brackets, the economic activity rate of over 65s is historically high. The rising economic activity rate of the over 65s reflects more people remaining active past their retirement age.


Ends

Editors Notes:




[1] Those classed as long-term unemployed have been unemployed for one year or more.

[2] A person is classified as economically active if they are in employment; defined as a 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.

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