New figures from the DWP show an increase in economic inactivity among older workers which is not explained by caring responsibilities or sickness.
There are fears that older workers may be being pushed into early retirement as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic as figures show a big annual rise in the number of older people who are economically inactive.
The figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show about half of the 540,000 people who were economically inactive but willing or would like to work gave the reason for not looking for work as ‘being sick, injured or disabled’ ; 14% said they were looking after home or family; but 36% gave the reason as ‘other’ – an increase on 22% for the same period in 2019. This is likely to include people who have taken early retirement.
The unemployment rate for 50 to 64 year olds follows a similar overall trend to the rate for 35 to 49 year olds, with both rates tracking very closely since 2014.
The figures come after years of rising employment among older workers, particularly women, linked to changes in the state pension.
The report shows that the average age of retirement has increased over the past two decades. In 2000 the average age for men was 63.3 years old, increasing to 65.2 years old in 2020. Over the same time period, in 2000 the average retirement age for women was 61.2 years old, increasing to 64.2 years old in 2020, an increase of 3 years
The employment rate for 50 to 64 year olds increased from 55.8% in 1984 to 72.5% in 2020. For those aged 65 and over, the employment rate increased from 4.9% in 1984 to 11.4% in 2020
The report also shows the employment rate gap between 50 to 64 and 35 to 49 year olds has been closing in recent years. In 1984 the employment rate gap between 50 to 64 and 35 to 49 years olds was 20.9 percentage points. This has gradually narrowed to 12.7 percentage points in 2020.