Peter Hoskin

The greying labour force 

The greying labour force 
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As a follow-up to my post yesterday on the number of new jobs being occupied by the over-50s, I should point out that there’s a good piece on the matter by Melanie McDonagh in today’s Times.  McDonagh rightly argues that an increasingly grey component of the labour market is a positive development:

“The notion that people are still being hired as they head for what was once, laughably, called the retirement age should cheer us up.  A workforce that brings together energetic Poles and hardy Brits of the war generation seems rather a good combination given the dearth of skills and any discernible work ethic among many school leavers ….  It's also a hopeful trend, given that we're all heading for an extended old age.  Average life expectancy for a professional man is 80, an increase of seven years since the 1970s.  By comparison with previous generations, we're so many Methuselahs; we may as well work.”

What I wondered yesterday is why it’s the case that the over-50s filled over 50 percent of the new jobs created between September and November, 2007.  After all, this level is pretty-much unprecedented (for the corresponding period in 2006, the over-50s occupied around 30 per cent of the new jobs created in the labour market).  Are the over-50s just more keen to work than they were in 2006?  Or are they responding to the tough fiscal times predicted for 2008?