Older workers leading the way in employment growth
WORKERS who have turned 55 can rest more easily. Treasury calculations to be released today show they are more likely than ever to hang on to their jobs.
The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, will tell a Sydney conference that employment rates among mature-age workers have grown solidly for the past 10 years and particularly strongly during the past three years.
He will release calculations showing that over the past year all of Australia’s employment growth has been among workers over 55.
In the year to July employment among people aged 55 and over surged 3.9 per cent. During the same period employment among those aged 54 and under did not grow at all.
In NSW the difference was particularly pronounced. Employment among older people rose 4.2 per cent while employment among younger ones slipped 0.2 per cent. About 26,000 more people over 55 are employed than a year ago and 5000 fewer young people.
An Australian National University labour market expert, Bob Gregory, said it would be wrong to conclude life was getting easier for older people without jobs.
“It’s still much harder to find a job if you are over 55,” he said. “But if you are already employed and you pass 55 you are much more likely to stay employed.
“It’s been moving that way for a decade. Part of it is the ageing of the population. There are more Australians over 55 than there used to be. Also there has been a dramatic growth in the employment of women in the past decade. As those women turn 55 and stay in work they push up the proportion of over-55s in work.
“And there’s something else. A decade ago the government tightened access to the disability pension. Before that, if a man was declared an invalid, both he and his wife got the disability pension.
“A rule change by the Howard government meant only the man got the pension. It effectively halved the pay-off from being declared an invalid.”
Professor Gregory said as a result of the change both women and men had been working longer.
But he said they had also been working longer in other countries, suggesting more universal forces had been at work.
“It is particularly so among unskilled workers. No one quite knows why.”
In today’s speech Mr Swan will emphasise that the prospects for older people who lose their jobs remain bleak.
He will say the average duration of unemployment for people 45 and over is 62 weeks, compared with 34 weeks for those aged 25 to 44 and 24 weeks for those aged under 25.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/older-workers-leading-the-way-in-employment-growth-20120902-258jx.html#ixzz2NIUFJ119