Over 50’s more likely to be among long-term unemployed

New analysis shows older people are more likely to be unemployed for two years or more.

Over 50's likely to be among long-term unemployed


While the number of older people in employment or self employment is rising, recent analysis shows people aged 50-64 are 33 per cent more likely to be unemployed for more than 24 months than the under 50s.

The analysis by the membership organisation Rest Less is based on the latest data from the Office of National Statistics Labour Force Survey (May-July 2019). It shows that, despite their low rate of unemployment overall, those aged 50-64 are more likely than any other age group to remain unemployed in the long term, that is, for two years or more.

Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, said: “There are nearly 60,000 50-64 year olds who have been out of work for more than two years, but this doesn’t take into account the many more who simply stop looking when they can’t find work and therefore drop out of the unemployment numbers.

Unless more support is provided, we risk the creation of a ‘forgotten generation’ who can’t find work and simply stop looking – withdrawing from the labour market and often suffering from loneliness and isolation as a result.”

The analysis also shows that:

  • One in five people (21%, 272,000) who are unemployed in the UK are aged over 50
  • Of the 171,000 people unemployed for more than 24 months, more than one in three (37%) are aged over 50
  • 38% of men who are unemployed for 24 months or more are aged over 50 compared with 35% of women

Dr John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist consultancy, stated:  “These data offer a timely reminder that the welcome rise in employment rates for older workers in recent years masks the reality many still face in the jobs market. Unfair discrimination in hiring leaves older jobseekers frequently confronting a choice between long-term unemployment or joining the burgeoning ranks of self-employed odd jobbers. While employers are becoming ever more aware of the strong business case for employing and investing in older people, it’s therefore clear that much faster progress is needed.”

Stuart Lewis added: “Nearly nine years on from the Equality Act and we are still seeing overt age discrimination in the workplace with the over 50s more likely to be made redundant, to receive less workplace training and to remain in long-term unemployment than their younger counterparts. This is all against a backdrop of an ever increasing state pension age requiring many to keep working for longer than they planned.

“Whilst we are seeing an increasing number of progressive companies beginning to embrace the opportunity presented by this talented and flexible segment of the workforce, there are sadly still too many that have an outdated view of age in the workplace.”

The news came a week before the launch of Workingwise.co.uk, which provides advice and support for older workers as well as examples of the best practice for employers.

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