Women’s state pension changes continue to drive record employment levels

Changes to the state pension age for women continued to drive the number of people in employment, which reached record levels in Q1 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

ONS’s latest labour market statistics revealed that, in Q1 2020, there were 33.14 million people in employment, 448,000 more than in Q1 2019.

The annual increase was mainly driven by women and workers aged over 50, with female employment increasing by 369,000 to a record 15.79 million and older workers rising by 313,000 to a record 10.76 million.

In its report, the ONS said: “The increase in the employment rate for women in recent years is partly a result of changes to the state pension age for women, resulting in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65 years.

“However, since the equalisation of the state pension age, the employment rate for women has continued to rise.”

The ONS data also found that the employment rate had increased in comparison with Q4 2019, by 211,000.

Again, this was mainly driven by women (up by 185,000) and older workers, with those aged over 65 in employment increasing by 124,000 to a record 1.42 million.

Commenting on the findings, Royal London pension specialist, Helen Morrissey, said: “Today’s figures show that between January and March women and older workers continued to fuel the growth in employment.

“This is a huge societal shift in terms of improving the financial resilience of both these groups during their working lives and into retirement with increased access to pensions and the ability to work into retirement if needed.

“However, these figures relate to a time before the Covid-19 epidemic and we expect to this to affect the data in the coming months.”

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