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Financial worry keeps over-65s in work

The rising number of over-65s in full-time employment reflects the financial worries of older people, according to The Age and Employment Network (TAEN).

The number of over-65s in work has reached the highest level since comparable records began in 1992, according to the latest round of labour market statistics published yesterday (Wednesday 16 March) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The statistics show 56,000 people over the age of 65 found jobs between January and February 2011, taking the overall number of over-65s in work to 900,000.

The number of workers over 50 also rose by 25,000 in the past quarter to 7.31 million, with 23,000 men making up the bulk of this rise.

But TAEN argues the rise likely reflects the growing financial worries of older people.

Long-term unemployment benefit claiming remains highest in the over-50 age group and TAEN has warned worse could come, as public jobs losses take hold.

Despite unemployment among the over-50s falling by 2,000 in the past quarter, the proportion out of work for 12 months or more (43.6%) remains the highest in any age group. And economic inactivity among the 50-to-64 age group also rose by 11,000 in the past three months to 3.6 million people.

Chris Ball, chief executive of TAEN, said: "While it is encouraging to see so many people over 65 finding jobs, we suspect that this is owing to financial pressure rather than an overwhelming desire to stay in work. That so many feel the need to stay in work shows just how important it is that the default retirement age is brought to an end.

"We suspect that the picture in terms of long-term unemployment for the over-50s will get worse in the coming months as public sector spending cuts begin to take hold and those older people losing their jobs face the daunting challenge of moving in to a private sector sceptical of both older and ex-public sector workers.

"The long-term unemployment rate for the over-50s is extremely concerning and, when we consider that self-employment is becoming an ever more popular route to work for older people, we are still not seeing the momentum from employers to getting older people back in to jobs."

The Age and Employment Network (TAEN) is an independent not-for-profit organisation, working in strategic partnership with Age UK to help remove age barriers to employment.