August 20, 2014
We keep saying it but forget all the talk about Gen Y, the UK workforce is actually aging and becoming more diverse. New research from Saga shows that the number of employees over the age of 65 has increased by over a third over the last four years and the numbers of those between 50 and 64 has also increased – by nearly a tenth. The proportion of over 65s within the workforce is up from 3.4 percent to 3.6 percent over the same period but there have also been increases in employment in younger age groups meaning the workforce is more diverse. There are now 1.09 million over 65s still in work and around 8 million in the 50-64 age group. The Saga Monthly Employment report, published in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research, also found that older age groups are now just as economically active as younger demographics
Saga director of communications Paul Green welcomed the increase but also warned that employers need to do more to wake up to the realities of the changing workforce. “This good news masks the misery that long-term unemployment causes and more needs to be done to help. Recent changes were made by government that removed employers’ national insurance for employing younger workers,” he said. “By extending this further to encourage businesses to take on the long-term unemployed, it could mean more take a chance on those who have been out of work for some time, but who are desperate to get back into the workplace.”
Key points of the report include:
- The contribution of the over 50s to the job market has been steadily rising. The total number of workers in the UK grew by 5.8 percent between the start of this Parliament in May 2010 and April– June 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 800,000 in three months to May 2010 to 1.091 million over April– June 2014, a very pronounced rise of 36.4 percent or 291,000 employees.
- The numbers of those employed in the 50-64 age group has risen from 7.289 million in May 2010 to 7.943 million over April– June 2014, an increase of 9.0 percent or 654,000 employees.
- The number of workers who are 50 or older has been rising steadily. At the start of the current Parliament in May 2010 some 8.089 million UK workers were 50 or older. That figure had risen to 9.034 million over the three months to June 2014.
- The over 50s’ share of UK employment is continuing to rise. Over the three months to June 2014, the report calculates that: 70.5 percent of all employed people were 49 or younger, down from 70.7 percent one year previously; 26.0 percent of all employed people were in the 50-64 age bracket, up from 25.9 percent one year earlier; 3.6 percent of all employed people were 65 or older, up from 3.4 percent 12 months before.
- Employment is not a zero-sum game and the over 50s have not been squeezing young people out of the job market. The number of employed over 50s is far lower than the number of employed 16-49-year-olds. Over April– June 2014, there were 7.943 million employed 50-64-year-olds, versus 7.689 million one year earlier. This compares to 21.563 million employed 16-49-year-olds over April– June 2014, versus 21.078 million over the same period in 2013.
- Economic activity amongst 50-64-year-olds has been gradually trending upward compared to economic activity amongst 18-24-year-olds, which has been generally flat. The economic activity rate amongst 50-64-year-olds is now similar to that of 18-24-year-olds.
- Over the three months to June 2014, the report calculates that: 71.4 percent of 50-64-year-olds were economically active; this was just above the 71.0 percent economic activity rate of people aged 18-24; 85.9 percent of those in the 25-34 age bracket were economically active; 87.1 percent of those in the 35-49 age bracket were economically active.
- The number of unemployed people aged 50 and above has not declined at a rate comparable with the number of unemployed people below this age.
- The number of unemployed people aged 49 or younger stood at 2.101 million over the three months to May 2010, the start of the current Parliament – falling to the 1.705 million figure recorded over the three months to June 2014. This represents an 18.8 percent decline in the number of unemployed persons in this 49 or younger age bracket.
- By contrast, from the start of the current Parliament to April– June 2014 the number of unemployed people in the 50-64 age bracket has fallen, from 367,300 to 347,888. This represents a 5.3 percent decline in the number of long-term unemployed persons in this age bracket.