More women working full time and retiring later

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The UK employment rate has risen to 76.3%, which the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has partially attributed to a record number of women working full time

In the three months to November 2019, 126,000 more women reportedly worked full time compared to the previous quarter. The number of women working full time is now at a record high of 9.26 million.

Changes to the state pension age for women mean that fewer women have been retiring between the ages of 60 and 65, which the ONS’ Labour market overview, UK: January 2020 has also partly attributed to the increased employment rate.

“The rise in female employment rates is partly the outcome of women staying longer in the labour market and retiring later,” Jill Rubery, director of the Work and Equalities Institute at Alliance Manchester Business School, told HR magazine. “This is likely to be a response both to policy changes – particularly the rapid increase in the state pension age for women – and the declining availability of occupational pensions.”

Rubery also suggested that women have become permanently attached to the labour market not only because of their own aspirations for careers and economic independence, but also because many families are reliant on two incomes to cover their outgoings.

“Earnings are only now catching up with where they were in 2008 before the crisis,” Rubery added, “and single-earner households are both increasingly rare and run higher risks of being in poverty.”

The ONS statistical bulletin also revealed that estimates for September to November 2019 showed a record 32.9 million people aged 16 years and over in employment in the UK –359,000 more than the same period in 2018.

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