Older workers in the recession
Today’s employment figures confirm the problems facing older unemployed people. In the first two years of the recession, it was clear that young people were being hit harder than any other group, and I argued that they should be the primary target for government support.
I still think that we have to pull all the stops out to stop creating another generation of young people facing greater poverty and worse employment prospects for the rest of their lives. But it’s becoming plain that there’s a group of older unemployed people who are finding it hard to get back into employment. Since the start of the year, when the labour market began to recover, over-50s have gained less than other groups.
If you look at today’s figures, overall employment is up by 184,000 compared with the previous quarter, but workers aged 50-64 saw their employment levels fall by 11,000 in the same period. If you look at the unemployment figures, overall unemployment was 49,000 lower, but for over 50s the fall was just 2,000. (Nicola has a post on Left Foot Forward taking a broader look at today’s figures.)
It’s still true that unemployment rates are lower for this age group – 4.6%, compared with 8% overall. On the other hand, the proportion of older unemployed people who have been unemployed for over a year – 43.3% – is significantly higher than for unemployed people of all ages, for whom the equivalent figure is 32.3%.
And, as Age UK have pointed out, older women have been particularly badly affected. In the past year:
- The number of unemployed women over 50 has risen 14%,
- Compared with 1.3% for men in the same age group.
- The number of women over 50 unemployed for over 12 months has increased by 81.4%,
- Compared with 39.7% for men over 50.
I don’t often agree with the Daily Mail, but it’s worth pointing out that they have covered this issue very well. And, while I’m at it, I liked their cartoon today, a very nice comment on David Cameron’s benefit fraud speech.