Record number of working women aged 50-64 in employment government report reveals

woman in her 50's working in office

Working women aged 50-64 are more likely to be in employment now than at any time in the last 30 years, according to statistics released by the government today.

According to the report women aged 50-64 in employment stands at a record high of 64.2% this year compared to 41.9% in 1985.

The report found that men aged 50 to 64 saw a drop in employment rates through the 1980s and 1990s due to ‘early retirement’ – this figure has now recovered to 85.7%. However, for men aged 60 to 64 less than 60% are in employment today, whereas this figure stood at 90% in the 1950s.

Minister for Pensions, Baroness Altmann said: “It’s great news that so many people are deciding to and able to work longer – great both for their personal financial prospects in retirement and for the economy as a whole. In the past society was too quick to write people off once they reached a certain age but it is clear things are changing, and about time too.

“However we must not become complacent about this issue – we still have a long way to go. It is vital that we continue to harness the potential of older workers, and employers in Britain need to take action on this. We must also strive to provide support for those who would like to work, but feel unable to do so, including many who have caring responsibilities.”

Altmann highlighted that women aged 50 to 64 are more likely to have elderly, sick or disabled dependents “with almost 1 in 4 women in this age group taking on these duties. This can be one of the major barriers preventing women in their 50s and 60s from staying in employment.”

Overall the employment rate for people over 65 has doubled in the past 30 years from, 4.9% to 10.2%, according to the report’s findings. Furthermore, the number of people aged 70 to 74 in employment shot from 5.5% to 9.9% over the past 10 years.

In recent years the government has expanded the right to flexible working, outlawing forced retirement at 65 and appointing a Business Champion for Older Workers to drive the agenda. A series of pilot programmes were launched earlier this year to find ways to help carers balance work with their caring responsibilities. In addition pilots to support older people getting into work, through confidence and skills building, have also been introduced.

In March, Altmann, published the report A new vision for older workers: retain, retrain, recruit. The government is expected to give its response to the report next spring.

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