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Over-50s employment rate plummets during pandemic

A new report has shown employment levels for over 50s have plunged during the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in the steepest annual drop in employment levels for older people in several decades.

Over-50s employment rate plummets during pandemic
Reno Charlton
· 3 min read

A new Resolution Foundation report has highlighted how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected employment levels across Britain. Data suggests the impact on employment levels for those aged 50 and over has been far worse than for those aged between 25 and 49, with the decline being twice as big for older workers.

The data shows that employment levels for over-50s have seen their most significant annual decline since the 1980s. The matter is made worse because people in this age group find it far more challenging than younger workers to get back into work after losing their jobs.

Officials from the Resolution Foundation are now calling on the government to intervene by providing more retraining for older workers. They also said that some older workers might have to retire earlier or work longer to deal with the impact.

Middle-aged workers least affected

The data shows the pandemic has had the most significant impact on younger workers aged 25 and under and older workers aged 50 and over. Workers between these age groups have been least affected by the pandemic in terms of employment, which researchers said has resulted in a ‘u-shaped’ employment shock.

Over 50s experienced a 1.4% employment decline in the past year, compared to a 0.7% decline for those aged 25 to 49. Data from the report also shows that between December and February this year, the number of unemployed workers in the over-50s age group was 109,000 more than the same period in 2020, just before Covid-19 gripped the nation.

The report also showed that less than two-thirds of over-50s who lost their jobs were able to get back into work within the following six months. A further problem highlighted was that even when over-50s did manage to get back into employment quickly, the negative impact on income was the highest across all age groups.

Speaking to the BBC, Kathleen Henehan, a senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said, "One of the more worrying things about losing your job when you're older is that on average, it takes a lot longer to find a job. A lot of that will be down to the fact you have more skills and experience, as well as more financial commitments you need to meet. When [older workers] do find that job - it tends to pay a lot less than the previous job... with big implications for retirement savings and how long they may need to work."

Government must ensure older works are helped back into work

Those calling for government action say older workers must not be forgotten when it comes to the various schemes and programmes designed to get people back into employment. Many want schemes that will offer tailored assistance to the over-50s along with additional support.

A Resolution Foundation spokesperson also said many older unemployed workers might have to work for much longer than they intended or opt to retire earlier due to the current situation.

Reno Charlton
Reno Charlton
Reno Charlton has been writing since 2003. She has worked with a diverse client base around the world, across a variety of subjects and industry areas, specialising in lifestyle and health & wellbeing niches. In addition to her online work, Reno is also a published author and has written several children's books and short stories.
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