Over 50s dropping out of the workforce due to Covid-19
The over 50s jobs and community site compared data from the Office of National Statistics in December to February compared with the most recent data from March to May.
It found that the inactivity levels of people aged over 50 rose more than any other age group in this time period.
Economic inactivity is an important measure as it shows the number of people falling out of the workforce entirely rather than just unemployed job seekers.
Rest Less’s analysis shows there were 198,000 workers aged over 50 who dropped out of the workforce entirely and became economically inactive since the pandemic began.
This is an increase of 1.4% in the most recent period (March to May) compared with the beginning of the year (December to February).
Economic inactivity declined in every other age group bar 35 to 49-year-olds in which it rose by 1%.
Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, said: “Many of today’s over 50s now have to work until they are 66 before they can claim their state pension. In addition to the rapid increase in the number of over 50s who are claiming Universal Credit (a 93% increase since the beginning of this year), these figures come as an alarming additional warning as to the true impact of the pandemic on older workers.
“In the wake of the toughest job market in decades, there has been a significant rise in the number of workers over 50 who have lost hope in finding a job and feel forced into an early retirement that many simply cannot afford. Sadly, these numbers are simply the canary in the coal mine: with the furlough scheme winding up and 2.5 million over 50s having been furloughed, we expect this to leave a permanent scar on this generation and their employment prospects.”
Women aged over 50 have been hit hardest with nearly 100,000 leaving the workforce entirely since the beginning of the pandemic.
The economic inactivity rates of all other female age groups fell except the over 50s which rose by 1.3% in March to May compared with December to February. The figure was highest amongst working age women between 50 and 64 whose economic inactivity levels rose by 2%.
Lewis added: “The gender pay gap is at its widest for women in their 50s. Years of an earnings gap has led to a large pension savings gap between men and women which leaves many women in their 50s and 60s in a financially precarious position ahead of retirement.
“In a tough labour market, it can be much harder for people to return to the workplace if they have been out of the workforce for any length of time. Women are far more likely to have taken time out to care for children, parents or a relative than their male counterparts, placing them at a natural disadvantage to other candidates who never left the workforce.
“In the last recession of 2009, women could retire at 60. Today they retire at 66, meaning there are 2.4 million more women having to find work before they are entitled to claim their state pension.”