Labour force set to see marked rise in over-50s

The UK workforce is set to rise by 6.7% over the next 14 years, from 30.1 million people today, to 32.1 million people by 2020.

Projections from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that from 2006 to 2015, the largest contribution to growth will be changes in the age composition of the workforce. But after 2016, growth will mainly be driven by the number of people who are economically active.

The most significant demographic change contributing to growth will be the rapid rise in the number of people aged 50 and above – an expected rise of 23.5%. But between now and 2011, the number of people in the ‘prime’ age group of 25 to 49 will also increase.

However, it will fall back to current levels when the ‘baby boomer’ generation moves up to the next group.

Increasing the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 over a 10-year period between 2010 and 2020 will also have a major impact on labour force growth. The working-age population presently includes men aged 16 to 64 and women aged 16 to 59.

However, on the basis of the new working-age definition of age 16 to 64 for both men and women, the number of people defined as economically active is expected to rise from 76.6% today, to 78.1% by 2012.


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