50-64 Year Old Workers Are 33% More Likely Than Their Younger Counterparts To be Unemployed for the Long-Term

Home > Press > 50-64 Year Old Workers Are 33% More Likely Than Their Younger Counterparts To be Unemployed for the Long-Term

Those aged 50-64 are 33 per cent more likely to be unemployed for more than 24 months than the under 50s*, according to new analysis from Rest Less, a jobs, advice and volunteering site for the over 50s.

According to new analysis from Rest Less based on the latest data from the Office of National Statistics Labour Force Survey (May-July 2019), despite their low rate of unemployment overall (2.51%, Table 1), those aged 50-64 are more likely than any other age group to remain unemployed in the long-term (two years or more).

Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, commented on the data: “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 showed 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 commented: “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 job seekers 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.”

Table 1: Unemployment figures Amongst Economically Active People by Age

Age Group # Economically Active (millions) # Unemployed (000s, May-July 2019) % Economically Active People Who Are Unemployed
(May-July 2019)
# Unemployed for 24 Months or More (000s,
May-July 2019)
% Economically Active People Who Are Unemployed
for 24 Months or More (May-July 2019)
All 34.07 1,294 3.80% 171 0.50%
16-24 4.27 488 11.40% 22 0.51%
25-49 18.96 534 2.80% 86 0.45%
50-64 9.52 259 2.70% 59 0.62%
Under 50s 23.23 1,022 4.40% 108 0.47%

Stuart Lewis concluded: “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.”

Case studies available on request

Notes to Editors

*The data is based on analysis of employment and unemployment data from the ONS labour market statistics for the period of May-July 2019 – seasonally adjusted.

*There are 58,969 50-64 year olds in long-term unemployment equating to a rate of 0.617% (rounded up to 0.62% in the table). There are 108,044 under 50s in long-term unemployment equating to a rate of 0.465% (rounded up to 0.47% in the table). 0.617 divided by 0.465 equals 1.326 – meaning that 50-64 year olds are 33% more likely to be in long-term unemployment than the under 50s.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Aisling Gray
PR Lead, Rest Less
Phone: 07900996065
Email: [email protected]


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