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COVID-19 has sparked older worker exodus

Care, along with leisure and other service occupations, have seen the largest number of older workers leave active employment, according to latest data from the ONS.

Movements out of work for those aged over 50 years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic finds that the number of those aged 50 to 70 years moving from economic activity to inactivity between Quarter 2 (Apr to June) and Quarter 3 (July to September) 2021 was 87,000 higher than in the same period in 2019.

Professional occupations saw the largest difference for those aged 50 to 70 years, with 30,000 more moving to economic inactivity between Quarter 2 and Quarter 3 in 2021 than in 2019; however, caring, leisure and other service occupations saw the largest proportional difference of 2.9 percentage points to 6.0% moving to inactivity in the same  Reasons for leaving the workplace include redundancy, self-employment as a result of furlough, ill health, caring for others, concerns about catching COVID-19, and financial security.

Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “We need to ensure the way we work is not essentially forcing older people out of the workforce and a more flexible approach may be needed.

“Recent figures from the ONS showed over a third of older workers who were willing to return to the workforce would prioritise a job that offered flexible working. The pandemic has shown a more flexible approach to work can be successful and could play a vital role in keeping older workers employed.”


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