Over 65s Likely to Drive Half of All UK Employment Growth in the Next 10 Years

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New projections from Rest Less, a jobs, volunteering and advice site for the over 50s, shows that workers aged 65 and over are likely to be responsible for at least 50 per cent of all UK employment growth in the next 10 years.

The analysis from Rest Less, which is based on population projections from the Office of National Statistics1, makes an assumption that the current employment rate of each age group will remain static2,3, and shows that with population changes alone, the over 65s are likely to be responsible for 52 per cent of all the UK’s employment growth in the next 10 years, 57 per cent in the next 20 years and as much as 62 per cent by 2060.

Table 1: Rest Less’s Predictions on Employment Growth - Using latest employment rates by age group, forward projected based on ONS Population Projections2

predicted increase in employment from 2020 by age group

Historic growth amongst the over 65s

Rest Less’s analysis of the latest ONS labour market data also shows that the number of over 65s in work has grown dramatically.

  • In the last 20 years the number of over 65s employed has grown from 455,000 to 1.31 million – a 188 percent increase.  
  • In the past 10 years the number of over 65s in work has increased from 763,000 to 1.31 million – a 71 percent increase.  
  • In the past 20 years, the employment rate for the over 65s has more than doubled from 5.1% to 10.9 per cent (Table 2).

Table 2: Number of over 65s in the population, in work and the employment rate for Aug - October in 2019, 10 years ago and 20 years ago4

employment rate of over 65s uk

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, commented on the analysis: “Our population is growing and people are living longer, healthier lives. Today’s over 65s are healthier and more active than previous generations and many who are fit and able to work tell us that they have no intention of fully retiring any time soon. People’s reasons for continuing to work post state pension age vary wildly, from those who are choosing to top up their pension pots whilst they still can, to those who want to keep working for the love of the job, or for the health and wellbeing benefits.

Population projections for the UK point to large increases in the number of over 65s in the decades to come. This longevity dividend, if fully embraced, has the potential to be one of the biggest societal opportunities in modern times.

Increasing numbers of over 65s in the workplace unlocks enormous potential for employers to embrace a talented, flexible and highly skilled workforce – but it also requires many employers to change their outdated stereotypes of age in the workplace and reconsider how they engage with and attract talented older employees.

Age is the final frontier in the battle for a diverse, inclusive working environment and we have been encouraged by the growing number of pioneering companies coming forward to embrace the opportunity this presents. For employers who value real diversity of thought, the benefits of having 25 year olds working in multigenerational teams alongside 65 year olds can be hugely powerful.”

Case study

Sue Cutler is 73 from Hollesley, near Ipswich in Suffolk. She has worked for an animal medicine trade association since 2001. She now works flexibly for them and is contracted to do 144 days a year although she often works extra days on top of this, covering for holidays and other staff absence.

The business used to be located a two minute walk from Sue’s home in a Suffolk village but moved to Bury St Edmunds in 2009; since then Sue travels 50 minutes each way to get to work.

Sue works for financial reasons but wants to continue to work whilst she’s physically able to in order to top up her retirement savings while she still can. She definitely has no plans to give up work.

Notes to editors

1The ONS Population Projections by age group can be found here

2The current employment rates by age group according to the ONS’s Seasonally Adjusted Labour Force Survey issued on Tuesday 17 December with August – October 2019 data are:

  • 16-17 year olds: 24.9%
  • 18-24 year olds: 62.1%
  • 25-34 year olds: 84.7%
  • 35-49 year olds: 85.6%
  • 50-64 year olds: 72.4%
  • 65+ year olds: 10.9%

3Please note that Rest Less has worked up additional scenarios based on continued increases to the employment rate amongst the over 50s – please contact us if you would like to see them.

4Table 2 data has also been taken from the ONS’s Seasonally Adjusted Labour Force Survey issued on 17 December 2019 with August – October 2019 data being compared with the same period in 2009 and 1999.

For media enquiries, please contact:

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