More older people working: ABS

More older people are participating in Australia’s labour force thanks to strong economic growth and legislative incentives, new data shows. About a quarter of the nation’s population was aged 55 years or over in 2009/10 and a third of them, 1.9 million people, made up 16 per cent of the total workforce, Australian Bureau of Statistics social trends data says.

Getting more older Australians to work is seen as one way to help soften the economic impacts of an ageing population, and successive governments have worked hard to boost these numbers.

An ABS report on older people and the labour force says the participation rate of Australians aged 55 and over has increased from 25 per cent to 34 per cent over the past 30 years, with the biggest increase in the past decade. “The marked increase in labour force participation among older men and women over the past decade is likely due to strong economic growth over the period leading to an increase in demand for employees of all ages,” the report says.

But it is also impacted by tax concessions for workers over 55 and a rise in the age at which women are eligible for the pension.Participation of older workers declines with age. In the last financial year, 71 per cent of the 55-59-year-olds were working alongside 51 per cent of the 60-64-year-olds and 24 per cent of the 65-69-year-olds.

People with the highest qualifications were most likely to be working longer. Older men were most likely to be managers (23 per cent) or professionals (20 per cent) while women were more likely to be clerical and administrative workers (28 per cent) or professionals (25 per cent).

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