Employment Rate Gap Between 50-64 Year Olds and Under 50s In Work at its Narrowest Since Comparable Records Began

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New analysis from Rest Less, a jobs, volunteering and advice site for the over 50s, has revealed that the gap between the employment rate of 50-64 year olds and under 50s* currently in work is at its narrowest in at least 25 years.

The analysis also shows that:

  • 72 percent of 50-64 year olds (9.3 million) are in work today – an increase of 86 percent (4.3 million) since comparable records began in 1992 and 27 per cent (2 million) in the past 10 years
  • Employment growth amongst the 50-64s far outstrips its population growth (Table 2) meaning that the employment rate of 50-64 year olds in work has been on a steady increase from just 56% in since 1992, to 72% today (Table 1).
    78 percent of 16-49 year olds (22 million) are currently in work – an increase of just 10 percent (2.1 million) since 1992
  • The employment rate amongst the 16-49s has increased from 73 percent in 1992 to 78 percent today, with negative population growth of minus one per cent in the past decade (Table 2).

Rest Less compared the percentage of the population in each age bracket which is still working and found that the 50-64 age group is rapidly closing the gap on the 16-49 age group when it comes to the proportion of the population currently in work (Chart 1 and Table 1).

Chart 1: Line graph showing growth in employment rate amongst 16-49s versus over 50s since comparable records began in 1992

Employment Rate by Age Group 2019

Table 1: Proportion of 16-49 year olds and 50-64 year olds in work, based on the latest Seasonally Adjusted ONS Labour Market Data*

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, commented on the findings:

“The proportion of 50-64 year olds in work has been on a steady incline since comparable records began and the employment rate is quickly gaining ground on the 16-49s – an age group whose employment rate has historically been significantly higher than all others.

‘The rising state pension age, combined with the transition away from the security of final salary pension schemes is forcing many to continue working for years longer than planned. In addition, the evidence continues to build for the health, social and wellbeing benefits of continuing to work into your 50s, 60s and beyond.

The implications of the rising numbers of 50-64 year olds in the workplace are vast and with future population growth coming almost entirely from the over 50s, employers who find ways to actively attract and retain this talented and hard working section of the workforce will be those that thrive over the coming decades ”

Table 2: Employment and Population Growth 50-64 year olds versus 16-49 year olds

Employment and Population Growth 50-64 vs 16-49

Patrick Thomson, Senior Programme Manager, Centre for Ageing Better, commented:

It’s encouraging to see the employment gap between 50-64 year olds and those under-50 narrowing. We know that improving employment rates for over-50s will unlock huge benefits for the UK’s economy, as well as helping people stay financially secure in later life.

“But there’s still much more to be done, with over-50s too often facing barriers to getting the kind of work they want, staying in work, or returning to the workplace after a career break.

“Employers have a huge role to play in closing the employment gap. Offering flexible working can make work possible for those with health issues or caring responsibilities. And, crucially, tackling ageism in the recruitment process will prevent employers from missing out on the skills and experience of older workers.”

Notes to Editors

*Under 50 is defined as the working age population between 16-49
*The data is based on the ONS’s latest Seasonally Adjusted Labour Market Data released in November 2019 and compares the period of July to September 2019, July to September 2009 and July to September 1992. ONS’s comparable records began in 1992.

For media enquiries, please contact:

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