There are now more than 1.5 million people aged 65+ either in the workplace or looking for work

The number of economically active people aged 65+ has reached record levels, according to new analysis from digital community and advocate for the over 50s, Rest Less.

Analysing new data issued by the Office of National Statistics on Tuesday 13 June, Rest Less found that economic activity levels amongst people aged over 65 surpassed 1.5 million for the first time since comparable records began in 1992. The employment rate of the over 65s is now at 12% – the highest it has ever been.

Chart 1: Economic Activity Levels, People aged 65+, 1992-2023

Stuart Lewis, Chief Executive of Rest Less, commented on the findings: “The rapid increase in the number of over 65s either in work, or looking for work is a significant long term trend driven by the UK’s ageing population, recent increases to the state pension age and a desire to stay active and purposeful in later life. Sadly, for some, it has also been accelerated to some extent by the current cost of living crisis.”

Rest Less’s analysis shows that employment levels amongst the over 65s have increased from 1,223,746 in February to April 2018 to 1,483,221 in February to April 2023 – a 21% increase in the last five years. Unemployment levels amongst this age group have also increased. Five years ago, in February to April 2018, unemployment levels were 21,700 compared with 26,455 today (Feb-April 2023) – a 22% increase, indicating the growing number of 65 year olds who are struggling to find work ahead of reaching the state pension age at 66.

The analysis from Rest Less shows that the number of economically active people aged 65+ has increased across both men and women. The number of economically active men in this age group has increased from 751,978 in Feb-April 2018 to 907,475 in Feb-April 2023 – an increase of 155,497 in five years – or 21%. The number of economically active women aged 65+ is currently 602,202 – up 108,734 from 493,468 in Feb-April 2018 – or an increase of 22%.

Stuart Lewis added: “The return of the over 65s to the jobs market is good news for employers who continue to struggle to fill vacancies with talented and reliable workers. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and with the continued tight labour market, we are pleased to see increasing numbers of progressive employers turning their attention to how they can attract, retrain and retain this often-overlooked talent pool of older workers.

“We know that for many people however, age discrimination and a lack of workplace flexibility remain a significant barrier to work and whilst the direction of travel with regards to age inclusive employment practices is positive, progress is slower than it should be and many employers continue to miss out on a valuable opportunity.

“Whilst working into later life is a positive for many due to the social and wellbeing benefits of staying active, this upward trend in employment, also raises some worrying questions around how financially precarious some others in their 60s are. This cohort is caught in the gap of pension provision – too young to miss out on the final salary pensions their parents had and yet too close to retirement to have time to build up sufficient private pension savings through auto-enrollment.

“Older women are particularly at risk. In the great recession of 2009, women could retire at 60 and receive the safety net of the state pension, today they have to wait until they are 66. With a gender pay gap that increases with age and a yawning gap in private pension savings between men and women, whilst the state pension age may well be equal, the retirement fortunes of men and women remain anything but equal.”

Selection of companies working with Rest Less actively hiring older workers:

Cadent Gas
Fuller, Smith and Turner
Inspired Villages
JD Wetherspoon
N Family Club
Now Teach


Notes to Editors

For media enquiries, please contact:
Aisling Gray
Head of Communications
Phone: 07900996065
Email: [email protected]

About Rest Less
Rest Less ( launched in early 2019 and is a digital community for people in their 50s, 60s and beyond. Rest Less is on a mission to help its members get more out of life and offers content guidance and resources on topics spanning Jobs and Careers, Volunteering, Learning, Money, Health and Lifestyle and Dating.