The employment gap between those at the cusp of retirement and the main working group has reduced 7.9% over the past 20 years with older people increasingly working longer, latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have shown.
The DWP labour market figures published on Thursday showed the employment gap between those aged 50-64 and 35-49 was down to 13.3% in 2017.
Currently almost three-quarters (71%) of people aged 50-64 are in full-time employment, up from three-fifths in 1997.
Employment rates, including part-time, for the older age groups of 65-69 and 70-74 year-olds doubled in the two decades, from 10.5% to 20.8% and 4.5% to 11% respectively.
This means a greater proportion of people are working beyond the state pension age, the DWP said. The average age at which employees leave the labour market is currently 65.1 years for men, and 63.6 years for women, it said.
The state pension age is set to rise to age 67 for both men and women between 2026 and 2028. In July, DWP secretary of state David Gauke hinted at plans to increase the state pension age in line with John Cridland’s proposal to bring it forward to 68 over a two-year period – starting in 2037.
Just group communications director Stephen Lowe said: “With the increase in the state pension age set to accelerate, there appears to be a growing awareness among all age groups that we will likely need to work longer – be that because we need the income of full-time employment or to top up the pension pot.
“Given that two-fifths of people aged over 65 are forced to retire earlier than expected due to circumstances beyond their control, it is a harsh reality that employment may not always be a personal choice beyond that age – even if many want or need to work longer.
“For people aged 50-64 getting their financial ducks in line and having a plan will offer them more options when faced with unexpected circumstances.”
Meanwhile, the Institute of Directors (IoD) published a report on Thursday, calling on the government to allow people to withdraw 10% more of their pension savings tax-free, in addition to the 25% granted under pension freedoms, to help fund start-up businesses in later working life.