Covid reverses later retirement and jobseeking trends for over 50s

A new DWP report shows that the number of older people seeking work has fallen since the pandemic started, reversing an upward trend, while the age at which people leave the workforce has fallen slightly.

Serious older man sitting staring into the distance

 

The age at which people leave the workforce has fallen slightly during the pandemic, reversing an upward trend in the years up to 2020, according to an annual study from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The report also shows that over 790,000 people aged between 50 and 64 years are either actively seeking work, or are inactive but are willing or would like to work, a fall from 810,000 in 2020.

The number of people over 50 who are employed has fallen in the last year by just under 1%. This compares to the 39-49 age group where numbers have remained fairly stable.

Sickness and disability is the main reason for people under the official retirement age leaving the workforce, with retirement the second most common reason.

The report says that, from the mid-1990s up to the start of the pandemic, the employment rate for people aged 50 years and over has been increasing and the employment rate gap between people aged between 35 and 49 year and people aged between 50 and 64 years has been narrowing. It also shows that from the mid-1990s up to the start of the pandemic, the average age of exit from the labour market has been increasing steadily for both males and females.

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, warned about the possible impact of the furlough scheme closing on older workers and said: “The DWP report provides further evidence of the detrimental impact Covid has had on the working lives of people in their 50, 60s and beyond, reversing long-term trends of employment rate growth amongst this age group…

“The data shows that despite the state pension age increasing for both men and women to 66 in 2020, we saw the average age of exit from the labour market falling as a result of the pandemic, indicating increased financial pressure for many to fund an early retirement for which they weren’t prepared.  Sacrificing those crucial final years of pension savings before retirement could have a detrimental impact on retirement income for years to come.”

 



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