People between the ages of 35 and 49, comprising nearly 11 million workers, are bearing the brunt of the economic slowdown with most newly-created jobs goingÃ‚Â to younger or older workers, according to a new analysis from the CIPD.
Of the 350,000 additional jobs created in the UK in 2010, around two thirds have gone to young people aged under-35, with the remainder filled by those over 50, says the institute.
Suggestions have been made that this trend has much to do with the fact that those in the mid age range bracket tend to earn the highest wages and employers are opting to cut costs by hiring cheaper alternatives. Workers in the 35-49 year age range – by far the biggest single age demographic in the workforce – have missed out and continue to register a rise in unemployment. The number of Britons between these ages in work is now 320,000 (2.9 per cent) lower than at the start of the recession in spring 2008.
John Philpott, author of the CIPD’s latest work audit of official labour market statistics (The 2010 Jobs Recovery) and the CIPD’s chief economic adviser, said: “It is not clear why 35-49 year olds have so far been bypassed by the jobs recovery. One possibility is that this group has received less help and support from policy makers than either younger or older people. Despite losing out in the recovery, middle aged workers still have relatively high employment rates and relatively low unemployment rates so don’t figure on the radar of social concern.
“Another possibility is that because middle aged workers are at, or approaching, their peak career earnings they may be less attractive to some employers than younger or older workers who can be employed at less cost. Or it could be that for people in mid-career, and at a time of life when their role as family breadwinner is at its height, the prospect of downshifting into a part-time or temporary job is not an attractive option, while alternatives open to the younger and older person such as entering a course of study or early retirement are not practical.
“The fact that such a large and core part of the workforce has been slow to benefit from the jobs recovery makes it easy to understand why so many people remain unconvinced that the economy is really on the up. Things should improve for this group once the economy starts to generate more full-time and permanent jobs. But with slower growth likely in 2011, ‘middle aged Britons’ may continue to feel bypassed in the labour market for a little while longer yet.”