Number of over 70’s in work rises

Availability of part-time hours is one key factor driving the increasing number of over 70’s still in work.

Older man with beard and red jumper gives the thumbs up


Record numbers of over 70s are continuing to work, including over 50,000 over 80’s, with availability of part-time work a big factor and the desire to top up pensions, according to a new analysis from Rest Less.

The analysis of Office for National Statistics figures by over 50’s membership organisation Rest Less found that the number of over 70’s in full or part-time employment has been steadily rising year on year over the past 10 years, reaching a peak of 497,946 in the first quarter of this year – an increase of 286,000 or 135 per cent since 2009.

Today, nearly one in 12 (8.1%) of those in their 70s are working, a significant increase from the one in 22 (4.5%) 10 years ago.

The analysis also shows that:

  • There are nearly 323,000 men aged 70 and over who are working either part time or full time today with nearly one in nine men in their 70’s continuing to work (11%). The number of men employed over the age of 70 has increased by 137% over the past 10 years when just 136,000 were working.
  • Significantly more men aged 70 and over are working full time compared with a decade ago.  This figure has more than trebled in the last decade to 113,513 in 2019, up from 36,302 in 2009 – an increase of 213%. The number working part time has increased by 109% to 209,440.
  • The number of women aged 70 and above who are still working has also more than doubled in a decade. Today, there are 175,000 women aged 70 and above who are working compared with only 76,000 in 2019 – a 131% increase – 31,962 work full time [a 237% increase] and 143,031 work part time [a 115% increase].
  • There are more than 53,000 over 80’s who are working in the UK today, 75% of whom are working part-time.

Retirement is changing

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, commented: “Whilst we know that the over 50’s in general have been the driving force behind the UK’s impressive employment growth in recent years, our deeper analysis shows the hard work and significant economic contribution made by the rapidly growing numbers of over 70’s in the workplace.

“Work patterns are changing – gone are the days of working hard five days a week for four and a half decades before suddenly stopping – and retiring ‘cold turkey’.  We can see from our analysis that part-time work is growing in popularity amongst the over 70’s both male and female.

“With generational lows in the unemployment rate, the over 50s offer a talented, and up to now largely untapped opportunity to many employers who are struggling to fill  a skills and employment gap.”

Health and social benefits

In addition to the availability of part-time work, he said factors included the decline in ‘gold-plated’ pensions, ever-increasing life expectancy and a growing understanding of the many health and social benefits that come with working into retirement, such as staying active, socially connected and maintaining a feeling of fulfilment.

Lily Parsey from the International Longevity Centre, added: “To maximise the longevity dividend of our ageing society, we need to provide more opportunities for flexible working to allow people to juggle work with health and care needs or caring responsibilities. We need to ensure people of all ages are included in life-long learning opportunities. And we need to create inclusive and supportive workplaces, to ensure that we all can benefit from the benefits longevity can yield.”

Understanding the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population is vital if we want to create productive, innovative and inclusive multi-generational teams as we all lead longer working lives. is a job and community site, from the people behind, specially focused on older workers looking for flexibility and improved work-life balance, and the employers who recognise what they have to offer.

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