THE NUMBER of over-65s employed in the UK’s labour market has surpassed 1m for the first time in history, official data revealed yesterday.
While demographic changes – there are now more Brits in this age group – are partly responsible, the employment rate for people aged 65 or over is also at its highest level since records began in 1992.
From February to April, the employment rate for over-65s was 9.5 per cent, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The charity Age UK welcomed the figures as a sign of employers recognising the value of older workers, yet the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) said that it could also be a sign of employees staying in their jobs due to financial necessity.
“While this [data] reflects a welcome willingness among employers to recruit and retain experienced people, it may also reflect the need that some older people have to top up inadequate pension arrangements,” said the IES’s Jim Hillage.
The employment rate for 50 to 64-year-olds is also higher, at 67 per cent, than the ratio of economically active 16 to 24-year-olds who are employed (51 per cent). Yet the number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds dropped away from the 1m mark, falling 43,000 to 950,000. This number includes 291,000 job-seeking full time students.
Overall, the latest figures were positive for chancellor George Osborne, reflecting the recent improvement in the UK’s labour market. From February to March 16 to 64-year-olds’ employment was up 24,000 on the previous three months to 29.76m, while unemployment fell 5,000 to 2.51m.