According to a new report from the ONS, numbers were relatively stable until 2000 but rose quickly thereafter to a peak of 1.45 million in 2010 while the proportion of the older population who are in employment also rose from 7.6% in 1993 to 12% in 2011.
A large proportion are either self-employed (32% compared with just 13% of those below that age) or are twice as likely to be working part-time (66%) than full-time (34%). For those under state pension age, 75% worked full-time and the remaining 25% worked part-time.
The figures suggest that those remaining in the labour market over state pension age do work fewer hours, possibly helped by the financial support of their state pension and other pension arrangements, which allow them to fit their work around other engagements.
However, Darren Philp, Policy Director at the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), warned that despite older people being more able to “ease into their retirement: “The problem comes when people want to retire but end up stuck at work because they cannot afford to leave.
“With half the workforce not saving into a pension, this is going to become a painful reality for millions. It is vital that we get more people planning and saving for their old age, and that they start as early as possible.”
There is also a massive gender difference in the figures, with two-thirds of the 39% of men over retirement age being classed as higher skilled, and two-thirds of the 61% of retirement age women, being classed as lower skilled.
The higher skilled roles that men carried out included those such as property managers, marketing and sales directors, production managers and chief executives of organisations. Of all the jobs carried out by men, the two most common were farmers and taxi drivers.
For women, the most common job was cleaners, followed by administration assistants, care workers and retail assistants.