From Ros Altmann:economist and pensions,
    investment and retirement policy expert

  • pensionsandsavings.com

    Over 50s find it harder to get back into work as labour market improves

    Over 50s find it harder to get back into work as labour market improves

    14th August 2014

    • Unemployment has fallen far less for over 50s than for younger workers as ageism in workplace remains
    • Under the coalition, unemployment for 16-49 year-olds has fallen 19%, but only 5% for over 50s

    The latest ONS employment figures show that the UK unemployment rate has fallen far faster than previously expected and now stands at 6.4%, the lowest level since Q4 2008.

    The figures also show that, under the Coalition Government, rising numbers of older people are remaining in work, with record employment levels for over 65s – a 291,000 increase since May 2010, up 36% over that period.

    However, unemployment among those aged 50-64 has fallen much more slowly than for younger workers, suggesting that the over 50s are finding it far more difficult to get back into work and suggesting a need for further action to help re-employment for older workers.  Employers and recruitment agencies are often focussed on hiring young people and overlook the older jobseekers.  However, these groups have valuable experience and life-skills which can add value to many businesses, alongside younger workers.  I hope to be able to identify any significant barriers and help more over 50s stay in or return to work if they wish to.

    Summary Table:


    Q2 2014, latest data

    May 2010

    Change since 2010 %

    Change since 2010 number

    Employees Age 16-49





    Employees Age 50+





    Employees age 50-64





    Employees age 65+






    Unemployed age 16 – 49





    Unemployed age 50-64





    • Over 50s have not been squeezing young people out of the job market. Rising numbers of older workers are also associated with rising numbers of younger workers.
    • The number of over 50s in employment has been steadily rising. The total number of workers in the UK rose 5.8% between May 2010 and Q2 2014, with employment for the over 50s increasing faster than for younger workers
    • The number of unemployed over 50s has not declined at a rate comparable with the number of younger unemployed.  Unemployed people aged 16-49 fell 18.8%, while for those aged 50-64 it fell by only 5.3%.
    • Economic activity for 50-64-year-olds has been gradually rising compared to economic activity for 18-24-year-olds, which has been relatively stable. In Q2 2014:
      • 71.4% of 50-64-year-olds were economically active.
      • 71.0% of 18-24-year-olds were economically active.
      • 85.9% of 25-34-year-olds were economically active.
      • 87.1% of 35-49-year-olds were economically active.


    One thought on “Over 50s find it harder to get back into work as labour market improves

    1. I would suggest establishment of a social media site on which age profiles of employees and recruitment for companies is published.

      That would give me as a consumer the information that I need in order to decide whether a company has the sort of social responsibility towards older (or younger) employees and jobseekers, that I would approve of, and therefore whether they deserve the privilege of my custom. If companies want me to spend my grey pound on their products and services they need to shape up and show they are the kind of organisations that I want to do business with.

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