Latest employment statistics show a mixed picture for mature workers and indicate that there are still uncertain times ahead for the over 50s, especially women
The number of over 65s in work has reached the highest level since comparable records began in 1992 according to the latest round of labour market statistics published today (Wednesday 16 March 2011) by the Office for National Statistics
According to today’s statistics, 56,000 people over the age of 65 found jobs between January and February 2011, taking the overall number of over 65s in work to 900,000.
However, TAEN – The Age and Employment Network argues that the rise likely reflects the growing financial worries of older people.
Although the number of workers over 50 also rose by 25,000 in the last quarter to 7.31 million, 23,000 of these workers were men suggesting that women over 50 are still finding it difficult to gain employment..
However, TAEN notes that long term unemployment benefit claiming remains highest in the over 50 age group and warns that worse could come as public jobs losses take hold.
Despite unemployment among the over 50s falling by 2,000 in the last quarter, the proportion out of work for 12 months or more, 43.6 per cent, remains the highest in any age group.
Economic inactivity among the 50 to 64 age group also rose by 11,000 in the past three months to 3.6 million people.
Today’s figures also show a rise in the total number of people who are self-employed, up by 114,000 in the past year to 3.98 million, a fact that TAEN suggests demonstrates self-employment is becoming an increasingly popular solution for older workers.
“We suspect that the picture in terms of long term unemployment for the over 50s will get worse in the coming months as public sector spending cuts begin to take hold and those older people losing their jobs face the daunting challenge of moving in to a private sector sceptical of both older and ex-public sector workers.
Long term unemployment and the over 50s
“The long term unemployment rates for the over 50s is extremely concerning and, when we consider that self-employment is becoming an ever more popular route to work for older people, we are still not seeing the momentum from employers to getting older people back in to jobs.”
I also believe we need to redefine how women over 50 are viewed by potential employers. Employers need to realise that at 50 a woman now has at least 16 years of working like ahead of her before being eligible for a state pension. One in 7 women turning 50 this year may well live to be 100, so at the age of 50, women are far from reaching old age.
As women we also have our part to play to stress to employers that we have much to offer. It is our responsibility to ensure that we update our skills to ensure that they our relevant to today’s workplace, and it is our responsibility to ensure that we take care of our own health, and present a positive image in today’s society and workplace so that we are at least given equal consideration alongside our younger counterparts when seeking employment.