Later Life  

Older workers boost employment figures

Older workers boost employment figures

People choosing to work past retirement age has helped boost employment figures, according to recent data.

Official labour market data, published by the Office for National Statistics yesterday (June 11), has shown that the over 50s were the biggest contributors to the growing UK employment figures.

There were 305,000 more people aged 50 or over in employment from February to April 2018, compared to the same period in 2017, with 80,000 of these aged 65 plus.

Total employment across all age groups increased by 357,000 over the same period.

Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, said: "When you dig beneath the headline figures it becomes clear the UK’s jobs ‘miracle’ is in fact almost entirely driven by older workers.

"In fact, the number of workers under age 24 dropped by 43,000 during the year while those aged 65 or older rose by 80,000.

"This will at least in part reflect state pension age increases, with women seeing their state pension age rise to 65 during 2018."

The retirement age for women increased from 60 to 65 to be aligned with men's last year, and will rise to 66 for both men and women by 2020.

According to the data, the number of women younger than 65 retiring from the labour force decreased by 241,000 and the employment rate for women overall was 72 per cent, the highest on record.

The ONS stated that the increase in the employment rate for women in recent years was partly due to changes to the state pension age for women, resulting in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65 years.

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said: "The significant increase in the state pension age for women continues to have a major bearing on [the increased employment rate for women], particularly in the 50-64 age band.

"Generally, we are seeing a trend towards people adopting a more phased approach to retirement as they work longer and transition gradually into retirement."

The ONS also found that full time employment was up 402,000 with part time employment down 45,000.

The fact that there are more people working full time should reduce the numbers who miss out on auto enrolment because their earnings are below £10,000, said Mr Cameron.

Currently, anyone earning below £10,000 in a single employment is not automatically enrolled, meaning many part-time workers are at risk of being excluded from retirement savings, even if their total earnings from multiple part time jobs is above £10,000. 

Mr Cameron said: "Historically, there have been more women in part time employment, so this trend may go some way to addressing the gender pensions gap."

amy.austin@ft.com

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