Over-50s and retired fare better than the young in jobs marketTUC report shows increase in over-50s employment

14 July 2011

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Many older workers simply cannot afford to retire due to low wages and poor pension provision, according to the TUC

Changes in the jobs market over the past 20 years have led to significant increases in the proportion of over-50s and people over retirement age in employment, according to new research from the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

56.5% of people aged between 50 and 64 were in work in April 1992. This rose to 64.9 per cent by December 2010. Over the same period, the proportion of those aged over 64 in work rose from 5.5% to 9%. This is a significant increase for workers of retirement age, who now make up a bigger share of the total working population.

Youth employment drops as over-50s employment rises

The report also reveals that young people have become less likely to be in employment over the same period - mainly because of the expansion of education, but also as young people have been hit hard by the recession.

In April 1992, 48.8% of 16 and 17-year-olds were in employment, but that figure had dropped to around 23.6% by December 2010. Around two thirds (65.8%) of 18 to 24-year-olds were working in April 1992, but this fell to around 58% by the end of 2010.

The proportion of 'prime age' workers (those aged 25 to 49) has remained steady, despite the recession, according to the TUC analysis.

Many people cannot afford to retire at 65

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Older people bring a wealth of skills and experience to the workplace. The increasing number of over-65s in work shows that older workers are highly valued and that the government is absolutely right to scrap the default retirement age.

'But there is a darker side to people to working beyond their retirement. Low wages and poor pension provision, particularly in the private sector, mean that many people simply cannot afford to retire at 65. The failure of far too many employers to help staff save for their retirement is forcing these people into pensioner poverty and placing a huge cost burden on the state.

'It is a mistake to blame older workers for youth unemployment - they tend not to be doing the jobs young unemployed people might expect to get. The main reason for young people's jobs crisis is that there just aren't enough new jobs that are appropriate for young people to do being created.

'We've seen record youth unemployment figures this year. Scrapping Education Maintenance Allowance and hiking university tuition fees will only further reduce the chances of young people - and with inflation rising at over twice the level of earnings, those in work are also finding it hard to make ends meet.'

  • What's your view on working past retirement age? Should older workers retire when they reach 65, or are they being forced to stay at work as they can't afford not to? Have your say with Which? Conversation's Are older workers blocking the job market? post.

 To find the best insurance product to protect against redundancy and illness, read our guide Understanding protection insurance.

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