New employment figures show benefits of an age diverse workforce

Thursday 18 December 2014

Saga’s latest employment report is great news for an age-diverse workforce but we need to keep the spotlight on the impact of longer term unemployment.

New employment figures show benefits of an age diverse workforce

"Increasing numbers of over 65 want to continue working and more employers are recognising the benefits of having an age-diverse workforce.  Today's figures show that North East of England is leading the way with a near 9% increase in over 50s in employment. 


However, losing your job in later life is devastating - 44% those aged over 50 and unemployed are classed as long term unemployed.  Long-term unemployed of all ages need more help re-train for a return to work."

Key points:


  • The UK-wide unemployment rate (for persons aged 16 and over) during August–October 2014 was 6.0%, unchanged for the third consecutive month.
  • The unemployment rate for those aged 50-64 was 3.8%, falling 0.9 percentage points from one year previously and the lowest since the three months to November 2008.
  • 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 are 50 or older. While the number of people aged 16 or older employed in the UK grew 1.9% from one year ago, the number of people employed aged 50 or older grew 2.8% over the same period.
    • The growth in employment of those aged 50 or older outpaced the overall growth across most of the regions over the last 12 months.  
    • The North East, Northern Ireland and the South East led this rise in employment with annual increases of 8.7% (+30,000), 5.1% (+11,000) and 4.5% (+60,000) respectively.
    • Only London and the East of England saw employment increase faster as a whole than for the over 50’s specifically.
    • Employment in Wales stands in stark contrast with other regions of the UK, with employment declining on an annual basis. However, the fall in employment has been less pronounced in the over 50’s age group. 
    • On closer inspection, the data give more cause for concern. Both the number of people aged 16-64 considered inactive because of retirement and the economic activity rate of the over 65’s, which has increased to 10.5% in the three months to October 2014 from 10.2% in the same period of 2013, reflect a falling number of retired citizens.
  • Figure 1 illustrates that the contribution of the over 50s to the job market has been steadily rising. The total number of workers in the UK grew by 5.7% between the start of this Parliament in May 2010 and August–October 2014, 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 801,000 in the three months to May 2010 to 1.141 million over August–October 2014, a very pronounced rise of 42.4% or 340,000 employees.
    • 50-64 has risen from 7.289 million in May 2010 to 8.081 million over August–October 2014, an increase of 10.4% or 762,000 employees.
    • 16-49 has increased by just 2.6% or 550,000 employees, from 21.024 million to 21.574 million.  
  • The number of workers who are 50 or older has been rising steadily. At the start of the current Parliament in May 2010, some 8.120 million UK workers were 50 or older. That figure had risen to 9.222 million over the three months to October 2014.
  • Figure 2 illustrates that the over 50s’ share of UK employment is continuing to rise but the pace of this growth has slowed this year. Over the three months to October 2014, we calculate that:
    • 70.1% of all employed people were 49 or younger, down slightly from 70.3% one year previously.
    • 26.2% of all employed people were in the 50-64 age bracket, up from 26.1% one year earlier.
    • 3.7% of all employed people were 65 or older, up from 3.6% 12 months before.
  • Figure 4 shows that the numbers of women aged 64 and below that are officially classified as retired has been falling considerably over recent years, with 232,000 less women under the age of 65 classified as retired in the three months to October this year compared with the three months to April 2010, when changes in the state pension age for women began.
  • This fall has not been matched by a similar fall in the number of retired men in the age group, in fact an additional 2,000 men under the age of 65 were classified as retired in the three months to October 2014 compared with the three months to April 2010. This suggests that the fall is being heavily driven by the changes being made the state pension age for women that began in April 2010.
  • However, alterations to the retirement age cannot account for all of the change seen in the number of people retired over the past few years. It is unfortunately the case that many over 50s may have chosen to continue working, postponing retirement, not because they wanted to, but because economic necessity forced them to. Falling living standards – caused by low interest rates, subdued pension returns and elevated utility price inflation – may have forced thousands of over 50s to retire later or come out of retirement.[1]






[1] See: Gustman, Steinmeier and Tabatabai (2010); Goda, Shoven and Slavov (2010) and Banks, Crawford, Crossley, Emmerson (2012).



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