Older workers keep noses to grindstone ABS report finds

MORE people are staying on in the workforce for longer.

The participation rate of over-55s increasing from 25 per cent to 34 per cent in the past 30 years, most of it in the past decade.

A new Australian Bureau of Statistics report finds the higher participation rate of older Australians in the workforce is a combination of government policy, personal financial considerations and better health.

“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,” says the ABS report Older People and the Labour Market, part of its quarterly Social Trends publication.

But tax concessions for workers older than 55, along with rises in the pension eligibility age, are also a significant part of the employment picture. Governments are keen to keep older workers in the workforce as it generates tax revenue and reduces the pension burden.

“Many people who retire end up re-entering the labour force,” the report says, noting that in 2008-09 144,000 over-55s came out of retirement and returned to work, six in 10 of them women.

“Around one third said the reason they came back into the workforce was because they were bored,” the report said. “A further 37 per cent returned to the labour force for financial reasons.”

Glyn Williams, 74, who works for Southern Cross Care in Adelaide, starts his day at 6.45am and rarely leaves before 4pm. He has long since passed retirement age, and is only now thinking of finishing within a year or two.

“My super, that went ages ago, and it paid for my unit,” Mr Williams said. “I’ve been married and divorced twice — trying to get a mortgage when you’re over 60 is pretty hard.”

While money is a factor in Mr Williams continuing to work, the risk services manager said he enjoyed his job and had never woken up questioning his role in the workforce.

People with the highest qualifications were most likely to work 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).

Source: The Australian

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