Job cuts hit older workers as unemployment levels reach 10-year high

Older workers were the biggest losers from the worst set of job figures for a decade, according to figures by the Office for National Statistics.

Figures showed that the number of working age people in jobs fell by 37,000 in the three months to July, as the official unemployment rate hit 5.5%.

Closer inspection showed that there were 20,000 less people aged between 50 and state pension age in work – and 17,000 of these were men aged between 50-64.

The figures also revealed that economic activity numbers dropped by 13,000 and economic inactivity numbers rose by 21,000 for people in this age group.

Age & Employment Network chief executive Chris Ball said: “The rises in unemployment and redundancies support our suspicions that older workers – and men in particular – are bearing the brunt of the jobs market slowdown.”

Ball accused employers of “pushing older employees out of the door” first before looking at other workers.

“The unfortunate and unpalatable truth is that some of those people in their 50s who have recently been made redundant can now effectively kiss their working lives goodbye,” he said.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development confirmed that older workers were bearing the brunt of recent headcount reductions.

Its chief economist John Philpott said: “This may signal that, despite the introduction of age discrimination legislation, older people might still be those more likely to accept voluntary redundancy or be hit by compulsory job cuts,”

Nigel Meagre, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, insisted that despite the current turmoil, the labour market was better placed to weather the storm than at similar points in previous downturns.

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