Study highlights impact of Covid on older workers

The 50 to 54 age group has been the most affected by job loss of the over 50’s age group during the pandemic, according to the ONS.

older woman in her 50's discussing her career options

 

Workers in their early 50’s are significantly more likely to have lost their jobs during the pandemic than their older peers, according to a new study by the Office for National Statistics.

The figures show older workers aged 50 years and over have also been more likely to lose their jobs than those in middle age groups, despite an increase in the population aged 50 years and over in this period. Those aged 50 to 54 have been the worst hit in this group and those aged 65 and over the second most affected.

The study also shows that older people were the most likely to be made redundant in the last quarter of 2020, although younger people were the most affected in earlier stages of the pandemic. Older people who become unemployed are more likely to be at risk of long-term unemployment than younger people, with older men more likely to lose their jobs than older women.

This may in large part be due to the sector they work in. Older men are most likely to be working in manufacturing, construction and wholesale/retail and repair of motor vehicles, while for older women workers, the most common industries are health and social work, education and wholesale/retail and repair of motor vehicles. Older workers, particularly men, are also more likely to be self employed which has fallen significantly during Covid.

The ONS figures also show that in December 2020 to February 2021, employees aged 50 years and over were more likely to report working fewer hours than usual (including none) in the past week because of the coronavirus than those aged under 50 years, with those aged 65 years and over the most likely to say they had worked reduced hours. Among older employees working reduced hours, the 65 years and overs were the most likely to receive no pay and the least likely to receive full pay. Older women employees were more likely to have reduced their hours because of the impact of the coronavirus than men (14.8% of women compared with 12.1% of men).

When it comes to furlough, the ONS says that, although the youngest workers are much more likely to be furloughed, over a quarter of furloughed employments are people aged 50 years and over (1.3 million),  with three in 10 of older workers on furlough thinking there is a 50% chance or higher that they will lose their job when the scheme ends.  Those aged 65 and over have been the least likely to take up the Government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

The study also looks at retirement plans. It finds that, as a result of the pandemic, one in eight (13%) of workers aged 50 years and over say they have changed their retirement plans, with 5% saying that they will retire earlier and 8% planning to retire later. Older workers on paid or unpaid leave from employment, including furlough, were the most likely to say they have changed their retirement plans but were almost equally likely to say they were planning to retire earlier (10%) or later (9%).

Stuart Lewis, Founder of over 50’s community site Rest Less, said: “Whilst job risk and uncertainty continues to exist across all age groups, the stakes are highest amongst older workers.  The ONS report says 1 in 8 workers aged 50 (just under 1.4 million people) and over say they have changed their retirement plans as a result of the pandemic, 5% of whom say they will retire early and 8% say they will retire later.  The financial and emotional implications of last minute changes to retirement planning can be significant, but many simply have no choice.”

 



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