Over-65s slip through the cracks

Australians over 65 are now the single fastest growing age group securing work, up by 11 per cent over the past 12 months, according to new research into the changing nature of the jobs market.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) research shows that a record 610,000 people aged 65 or older now hold down part or full-time work.

However, while there is a record number of older Australians in the workforce, there has also been an increase in unemployment for over-65s seeking a job, with many finding their skills and experience unwanted by prospective employers. There has been a 39 per cent rise in the number of unemployed over-65s looking for full-time work and a 28 per cent rise in those looking for any type of work.

The research suggests that a number of older Australians are struggling to make ends meet, particularly those who have not benefitted from a lifetime of superannuation contributions and are seeking work. So too, are many who are discovering they did not have enough stashed away for retirement, as well as those who have lost jobs in their late 50s and are finding that Newstart payments aren’t enough to keep them going until they reach Age Pension age.

West Australian workplace diversity expert Conrad Liveris also believes that early retirees may have discovered they missed work and are looking to re-enter the jobs market.

“The 65-plus age group is caught between a transition to a new retirement system, a changing labour market and an economy that still values their skills,” said Mr Liveris, in a Sydney Morning Herald report.

“And also, they’re not dying. Their health is pretty damn good. They are not going anywhere.”

It seems that older Australians are also taking on more than one job, with separate figures from the ABS showing that between 2011-12 and 2016-17 the proportion of over-60s holding down more than one job grew by 18 per cent – four per cent more than the national average.

According to YourLifeChoices research, more older Australians intend to retire later now than they did in 2015. In the annual Insights Survey, those approaching retirement age (60-64) were asked when they intend to retire. In 2015, 32.69 per cent said 65, 9.21 per cent said 67 and 6.39 per cent said 70 or older. The 2019 Insights Survey showed a marked difference – 20.11 per cent said 65, 23.26 per cent said 67 and 7.25 per cent said 70 or older.

These numbers, along with those from the ABS, highlight the need to raise the Newstart allowance or create a special payment for older people transitioning to Age Pension age.

Are you one of those slipping through the cracks? Do you think there a transition-to-retirement payment should be introduced to help older Australians make it through to pension age? Have you struggled to find work in your 50s, 60s or beyond?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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