Latest employment figures highlight regional disparity for over 50s employment

Wednesday 15 February 2017

“On the face of it today’s employment figures look great, but there are clear regional differences in the employment prospects for those that are aged 50 and above across the UK.” said Paul Green, director of communications for Saga.

“Employment growth for the over 50s was strongest in the East Midlands and London, whilst those over 50s living in Northern Ireland have seen much slower growth in employment. However what is more worrying is the fact that over 50s living in Northern Ireland and West Midlands are proportionately more likely to be stuck in long term unemployment and, often due to their age, find it significant much harder to get back into the workforce.”

                                                           

Key points:

  • The rate of unemployment across the UK stood at 4.8% from in the October to December period, unchanged from the three months to November. The unemployment rate has not been lower since July to September 2005.
  • The unemployment rate from October to December is down 0.3 percentage points from the 5.1% recorded in the same period a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate in the three months to December for those aged 50-64 stood at 3.4%, rising slightly from the 3.3% seen in the three months to November, but down 0.2 percentage points from the 3.5% recorded in the same period a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate has been on a gradual but steady downward trend for the past 18 months, having last risen in the three months to May 2015.
  • From October to December, the total number of people in work increased by 35,000 to 31.8 million compared to the previous period.
  • 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 8.6%, with employment for the over 50s rising faster than that for younger workers. Over the aforementioned period, the number of workers aged:
    • 65 or older has risen from 881,000 in the three months to December 2011 to 1.20 million in the same period of 2016, a significant rise of 36.4% or 321,000 employees.
    • 50-64 has risen from 7.46 million in the three months to December 2011 to 8.65 million in the three months to December 2016, an increase of 15.9% or around 1.19 million employees.
    • 16-49 has increased by 4.7% or 990,000 employees, from 21.0 million to 21.95 million.
  • However, there are clear regional differences in the employment prospects for those that are aged 50 and above across the UK.
  • Figure 3 illustrates the regional growth rates in employment for workers who are 50 or older.
    • Promisingly, the growth in employment of those aged 50 or older outpaced the overall growth across all but one of the UK’s regions over the last 12 months.
    • In particular, the East Midlands and London have seen the strongest growth in over 50s employment, with annual increases of 6.4% and 4.4% respectively in Q3 2016.
    • The North East has also seen robust job growth for the over 50s, of 3.6% year-on-year in Q3 2016.
    • However, employment growth for the over 50s was relatively weak in Yorkshire and the Humber, up just 0.9% annually; alongside near-stagnant jobs growth of 0.5% across all aged 16 and above in the region.
    • Northern Ireland was the only region in which jobs growth was slower for the over 50s than for all ages over 16.
  • 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 to the working population as a whole in all regions across the UK.
    • The shares of unemployed people aged over 50 that were classed as long-term unemployed were highest in Northern Ireland (44.4%) and the West Midlands (44.0%), compared to 35.1% and 38.3% of all in long-term unemployment in Northern Ireland and the West Midlands respectively.
    • The South West and South East have the lowest shares of unemployed over 50s who are classed as long-term unemployed, at 30.8% and 28.3% respectively. These two regions also have the lowest share of long-term unemployed people out of work.
    • Figure 4 highlights that unemployed over 50s are finding it more difficult to regain employment than the rest of the working population. This may be a result of older workers looking for work less urgently than those who are at the start of their careers.

Ends

Share this page

Get In Touch

The Saga Group Communications Team only deal with enquiries from the media.

If you're not a journalist, visit our contact us page for a full list of telephone numbers.