News | Published August 08 2019

Over-50s contributed most to post-downturn growth

According to figures published by the ONS, workers aged over 50 made the biggest contribution to post-2008 growth. In 2008, over-50s accounted for 25 per cent of all hours worked with this figure rising to 30 per cent by 2018.

Whereas younger workers saw the largest reduction in jobs, and thus the largest reduction in the number of hours worked, the number of hours worked by over-50s has been steadily growing.

This disparity affected the composition of the labour market, with the workforce beginning to skew towards older workers.

Once the economy began to recover, other age groups began to increase their contributions. 30-49 year olds were second to have a positive contribution to the growth in total hours worked whereas the youngest age group, workers aged between 16 to 29, only began to make this contribution in more recent quarters.

Currently, however, it is these younger workers that are making the largest contribution.

Alongside the fact that younger workers were more affected by job losses during the downturn, another possible reason for the increased contribution of the over-50s was the change to the state pension age. New legislation increased the pension age for women to 65 thus providing more time for older workers to contribute to these figures.

Claire Turner, Director of Evidence at the Centre for Ageing Better, responded by saying: “It’s clear that older workers played a massive role in getting Britain back on its feet after the economic crash ten years ago.

“Over-50s now account for nearly a third (30%) of all hours worked in the UK. Their share began rising the fastest and has increased the most compared to other age groups. Our research shows these trends are set to continue, with fewer young people starting work to replace those set to retire in the future.

“If employers want this success to continue and avoid potential skills and labour shortfalls in the coming years, they must do more to support their growing older workforce. That means bringing in flexible working, encouraging career development at all ages, and stamping out age-discrimination, particularly in recruitment processes.”

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
August 08 2019

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