Unemployment rises by a third among older workers since pandemic

The percentage rise in people losing their jobs since the Covid pandemic is highest among older workers who may face the biggest challenge to get back to work, says a new report.



The number of unemployed over 50s has increased by a third in a year, according to new data analysis.

Rest Less, the community organisation for over 50s, analysed the latest Labour Market Statistics issued by the Office of National Statistics and found that the number of unemployed over 50s has increased by 33% year on year – the biggest percentage increase of all age groups and significantly more than the national average increase of 24%.

Rest Less says that, whilst the unemployment rate is significantly higher for those aged under 24, the youth unemployment rate was high a year ago before the pandemic arrived. Looking at the rate of change in those becoming unemployed over the last year, Rest Less’ analysis shows that whilst unemployment levels have increased significantly amongst all age groups,  it is older workers who have seen the greatest percentage increase.

Rest Less notes that once unemployed, older workers are likely to remain in long term unemployment than their younger counterparts.

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, said: “There is no doubt that we are facing a youth employment crisis right now, but less well documented is the fact that we are also facing a long-term unemployment disaster amongst older workers. Not only have we seen a rapid rise in unemployment in the over 50s since this time last year, but our previous research has shown that once unemployed, they are significantly more likely to remain in long-term unemployment than their younger counterparts.

“In the year that the state pension age moves to 66 and Universal Credit Claims amongst the over 50s have surged to more than 600 thousand – more needs to be done to tackle systemic ageism in the workplace to help these talented, life-rich workers find meaningful employment.  The over 50s are a group of highly work and life experienced people who offer huge value to employers: not only do they have decades of work experience under their belts but they also bring an important set of life skills to the table as well as attributes such as loyalty, resilience, empathy and an ability to think laterally.”

Meanwhile, savers who have transferred out of a pension scheme over the last 30 years are being urged to seek urgent financial advice following a High Court ruling over defined benefit (DB) schemes that provide Guaranteed Minimum Pensions.

The High Court said that a previous ruling on historical gender equalisation from 2018 also extends to those who transferred their pensions after 1990. It means up to a million savers are now entitled to have their payments recalculated, with the pension top-ups for some savers expected to run to several tens of thousands of pounds.

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