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Millions of women forced to work until they drop: Number of those still employed in their 50s and 60s hits a record high and reaches 4.2million

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 21/02/2018 Gareth Davies

© Shutterstock The number of women working in their 50s and 60s has hit a record high.

The total reached 4.2million in December – up 3.5 per cent in a year. 

Twenty years ago the equivalent figure for those aged 50 to 64 was just 2.4million.

The surge means the number of both men and women working past 50 has passed ten million for the first time. 

Pension experts last night warned that many older employees – especially women – felt they had no choice but to soldier on.

a person sitting on the keyboard of a laptop computer: The number of women working in their 50s and 60s has hit a record high. The total reached 4.2million in December – up 3.5 per cent in a year© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The number of women working in their 50s and 60s has hit a record high. The total reached 4.2million in December – up 3.5 per cent in a year

The number of women working in their 50s and 60s has hit a record high. The total reached 4.2million in December – up 3.5 per cent in a year

Higher life expectancy, worse pensions and a rising state pension age are all key factors in putting off retirement, according to Tom Selby, of the savings firm AJ Bell. 

He said some workers would be happy to carry on in later life but others ‘will inevitably feel they are being forced to work themselves into the ground’.

Britain gives retirees the worst state pension of any developed country, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

The basic payout of £122.30 a week equals just 29 per cent of average earnings.

Baroness Altmann, a former pensions minister, warned even this figure might have to be cut to balance the books. ‘We are one of the world’s leading economies, but our support for the oldest in society is not fit for purpose,’ she added.

The state pension age for women will rise this year from 63 to match men at 65, and will reach 66 for both by 2020.

Government actuaries believe it will reach 70 in the 2050s and 71 in the 2060s.

Yesterday’s employment figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of over-50s in work rose last year by 184,000, or 1.9 per cent, to 10million.

The trend helped push total employment to a record high of 32.15million – despite the number of 18 to 24-year-olds in work falling by 67,000, or 1.9 per cent.

© PA

The surge means the number of both men and women working past 50 has passed ten million for the first time. Pension experts last night warned that many older employees – especially women – felt they had no choice but to soldier on

Employment minister Alok Sharma welcomed the news about older workers.

‘Staying in work for longer is better for our physical and mental wellbeing, and also means more money in pockets,’ he said. 

‘These latest figures show people are positively changing their attitudes to employment in later life.’

‘When I talk to employers it’s very clear that they recognise the value of older workers in terms of their experience, commitment and ability to mentor younger colleagues.’

Although employment hit a record high, joblessness rose by 46,000 between October and December to 1.47million, the biggest increase in almost five years. 

The jobless rate moved up from a 42-year low of 4.3 per cent to 4.4 per cent – but it is still around half the 8.7 per cent unemployment rate in the eurozone.

The number of men aged over 50 in work has risen by 975,000 or 22 per cent in the past decade to just over 5.3million.

At the same time, the number of women aged 50 or over in work has risen by 1.2million, or 34 per cent, to 4.7million. 

Former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb, now director of policy at the retirement savings group Royal London, said yesterday: ‘There are many women who are working into their early 60s who wouldn’t have been in the past because they now have to.’

© RexHigher life expectancy, worse pensions and a rising state pension age are all key factors in putting off retirement, according to Tom Selby, of the savings firm AJ Bell

He added that others choose to stay in work – and could no longer be forced out at 65 following the abolition of the default retirement age in 2011.

‘It is a mix of people working longer because they want to and because they have to,’ said Sir Steve.

‘For some, this isn’t a choice. But for others it is a positive choice. For example, you cannot be sacked for being 65 any more. 

'There are people who used to be forced to retire who can now carry on.’

The total employment figure of 32.15million included an increase of 88,000 in the final three months of 2017.

NOW SEE: The 10 best places to retire in the UK - is your area on the list? (Lovemoney)

Where to spend your retirement: Planning on calling time on your career but not sure where to live? Here are the top 10 places to retire in the UK, according to the Prudential Quality of Retirement Index. We also highlight how much home you get for your money in each of the top 10, to give you a better idea if it’s the right place for you.

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