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25 August 2016, 01:00

Saga Employment Report August 2016

Saga's latest employment report reveals that long-term unemployment amongst over 50s is higher than for the working population as a whole in every region of the UK.

Key points:

  • The rate of unemployment across the UK remained steady in the three months June 2016 at 4.9%. This compares with a rate of 5.6% recorded during the same period a year ago.
    • In contrast to the headline rate, the unemployment rate for those aged 50-64 fell to 3.3% in the three months to June 2016, down from the 3.4% recorded in the previous reading.

  • However, there are clear regional differences across the UK in the employment prospects for those that are aged 50 and above.

  • Figure 3 illustrates the regional employment growth for workers who are 50 or older.
    • The growth in employment of those aged 50 or older outpaced the overall growth across many of the regions of the UK over the last 12 months.
    • Wales and the South West led this rise in over 50s employment with annual increases of 5.9% (+26,000) and 5.2% (+47,000) respectively.
    • However, despite strong overall employment growth in the North East, over 50s employment grew at one of the slowest rates, 1.4% or 5,000 employees.

  • There are also differences in long-term unemployment across the regions of the UK. Figure 4 shows that the percentage of those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for over 12 months and therefore classed as long-term unemployed is higher for the over 50s age group compared with the working population as a whole in every region of the UK.
    • The shares of unemployed people aged over 50 that were classed as long-term unemployed were highest in Northern Ireland and the West Midlands at 47% and 42% respectively.
    • These compare with 37% and 36% of all unemployed workers in Northern Ireland and the West Midlands classed as long-term unemployed.

  • Worryingly, Figure 4 shows that, across the UK, the over 50s who find themselves out of work are finding it harder to get back into employment compared with the rest of the working population.

  • Figure 1 illustrates that the contribution of the over 50s to the job market has been rising steadily. Over the past five years, the total number of people in employment in the UK has grown by 7.8%, with employment for the over 50s rising faster than for younger workers. Over this time, the number of workers aged:
    • 65 or older has risen from 888,000 in the three months to June 2011 to 1.21 million in the same period of 2016, a very pronounced rise of 35.9% or 319,000 employees.
    • 50-64 has risen from 7.43 million in the three months to June 2011 to 8.56 million in the three months to June 2016, an increase of 15.1% or around 1.1 million employees.
    • 16-49 has increased by 4.1% or 861,000 employees, from 21.13 million to 21.99 million.

  • The number of workers who are 50 or older has been rising steadily. Five years ago, some 8.32 million UK workers were 50 or older in the three months to June 2011. That figure had risen to 9.76 million between April – June 2016.

  • Figure 2 illustrates that the over 50s’ share of UK employment is continuing to rise. Over the course of the three months to June 2016, we calculate that:
    • 69.2% of all employed people were 49 or younger, down from 69.8% one year previously.
    • 27.0% of all employed people were in the 50-64 age bracket, up from 26.5% one year earlier.
    • 3.8% of all employed people were 65 or older, up from 3.7% 12 months earlier.


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