Last reviewed 24 April 2019

More than 70% of the 457,000 net annual increase in the number of people in work over the past year has gone to people aged 50 and over, according to the latest labour market figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In addition, a relatively large proportion of women aged between 25 and 34 account for the sharp increase in employment over the past year, which has been driven in part by a relatively steep decrease in the number of economically inactive women who have found employment.

Responding to the figures, which cover the period from December 2018 to February 2019, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said that it was not entirely clear why certain groups have benefitted from the “extraordinary” strong employment growth over the past year.

“Changing demographics is undoubtedly a factor,” senior labour market analyst Gerwyn Davies said, “but another possibility is that employers are being forced to widen their recruitment channels and make work more accessible in response to the tightening labour market.”

He also highlighted support such as more generous childcare support and increases in the National Living Wage (NLW).

Either way, Mr Davies concluded, the recent strong growth in well-paid, permanent, full-time jobs suggests that many employers are shrugging off any concerns about the availability of skilled staff and any Brexit-related uncertainty.

Evidence of labour shortages remains, however, in sectors such as hospitality and construction (despite the latter having seen higher wage growth than the economy as a whole).

The latest ONS Labour market Overview can be found at

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director Kate Palmer

These figures certainly make for promising reading and are a good indication that recent efforts made by employers to increase diversity appear to be paying off.

Interestingly, while much is rightly made of the need to improve opportunities for women at work, issues facing older staff can often go under-reported in comparison.

However, it would appear that UK employers are growing more inclined to make better use of older workers by tapping into the invaluable experience that they can so often bring to an organisation.