Number of older working women falls by 11% – pandemic sees them ‘disappear’ from workforce

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Employment statistics were released by the ONS in late January and their latest Labour Market figures for the three months to November 2020 painted a bleak picture. In examining the figures, it was revealed that women approaching their retirement are struggling with coronavirus related problems at the moment.

Stephen Lowe, a group communications director at Just Group, dove into the data and made some shocking discoveries: “The fall in the number of women aged 65+ employed is around 71,000 or 11 percent which is the largest for any age group aged 18+. For men aged 65+, the figure was a fall of just 1,000 in the same period.

“The trend has been for an increase in workers aged 65+, largely driven by the rise in State Pension age to 66. But that trend has halted since the first three months of last year, and for women has gone into reverse as they appear to disappear from the workforce.

“Unemployment among men aged 65+ has risen by about one-third but for women has barely moved at all. That suggests that rather than continuing to seek jobs, women are more likely than men to slip into retirement with whatever pension savings they have.

“It is important for policymakers to note what is happening at these ages.

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“There is an assumption that pushing up the age at which people can collect State Pension will mean more people will work for longer, but it seems that women in particular are finding that more challenging.

“Those thinking of taking pension money or retiring should take financial advice or use the free, impartial and independent guidance on offer from Pension Wise – anyone aged 50+ with a defined contribution pension scheme is entitled to it. It is highly rated by those who use it and it helps people fully understand their options and the long-term consequences of pension decisions made at the point of retirement.”

These findings were analysed by both the WASPI and BackTo60 campaigns, two groups who have been pushing for pension and retirement equality for some time now.

A spokesperson for WASPI had the following to say: “The Labour Market figures from the Office for National Statistics illustrate clearly the impact of COVID19 on women.

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“WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality – have been raising the issue since April last year.

“Women born in the 1950s, now in their sixties, are often employed in the ‘gig economy’, short term contracts, or in part time, low paid work.

“These roles have been particularly affected by the impact of the pandemic.

“WASPI calls, for emergency support for those most affected, have fallen on deaf ears.

“The WASPI Campaign receives daily messages from women concerned about the security of their jobs and lack of employment opportunities.

“Many women express their fears for the future. This affects their physical and mental well-being as well as their opportunity for a secure retirement.

“WASPI continue to campaign for fair transitional arrangements for women who received little or no notice of up to a six-year increase in their State Pension age.

“This left them with no chance to make alternative arrangements. The time has come for the Government to take notice.”

Similar sentiment was shared by Joanne Welch, the founder and Director of the BackTo60 campaign, who detailed: “It is time to reset the economy and provide a stepping stone to future generations.

“The way we live can make it easier for our children and grandchildren. 1950’s women are one of those essential stepping stones.

“Keep schools closed and close the nurseries: they are ‘vectors of coronavirus transmission’, says the Prime Minister.

“The majority of robbed 1950’s women are keen to home school children and look after the elderly whilst parents work. 16-24 year olds will benefit, too, with proper jobs made vacant by 1950’s women.

“Over-60s working on the frontline live in fear of coronavirus: between March and December 2020, carers were more than three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than the general working age population.

“Carers are paid minimum wage for maximum risk – the data once again questions the way we value this vital work.

“[Over 200] education staff aged 20-64 have died after contracting coronavirus. When you add those over the age of 64 the total figure climbs to 570.

“Job losses in Hospitality and Retail have impacted the robbed 3.8m 1950’s women, many of whom have already suffered the catastrophic cumulative impact of austerity and the pandemic: Brexit and Climate Change loiter, ominously. It’s time for full restitution.”

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