Downturn hitting people of all ages

The recession makes no dispensation for age: workers both young and old are suffering its effects.

Last Updated: 11 Nov 2010

First up, 60% of respondents to a survey of over-50s by Help the Aged and Age Concern fear they will be forced to work longer to afford to retire. Unfortunately these concerns are hardly irrational; in fact, there are some convincing reasons why those long afternoons in the garden may have to wait. Savers have suffered declining returns on investments since the Bank of England started cutting interest rates, while pensions have taken an almighty knock from the stuttering stock markets.

The charity describes the likely outcome of the recession for many as ‘a retirement blighted by poverty’. It’s a picture made no cheerier when you consider the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, which say unemployment among over-50s has risen by 47% in the past year.

The government may have made a big noise about its recent wave of age discrimination laws, but it may still prove tough for many in that age bracket to get back into work again – even once the economy recovers. Unemployment topped 2m for the three months to January, for the first time since 1997 – meaning that the fight for work when things pick up is sure to be a tough one.

But it’s not just the more distinguished among the populace that are facing a stiff test. The younger generation are struggling to find work too. The CIPD has found that 45% of firms aren’t planning to hire graduates or school leavers in the coming months. Only one in five said they were looking to hire 16-year-olds, and a third said they’d cut their graduate intake in 2009.

In other words, it’s a similarly depressing outlook for people leaving school this summer – not least because they lack the experience to make them stand out from the crowd of young unemployed. And this crowd is a big one: according to research by the Prince’s Trust and Cass Business School, some 450,000 under-25s are now claiming jobseekers’ allowance.

So it’s fair to say that conditions out there are looking pretty bleak, at both ends of the age spectrum. Those fresh out of the blocks – and those looking forward to putting their feet up – will have to be a bit cleverer about how they look for work.

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