Australians who have turned 55 can rest more easily. New Treasury calculations to be released today show they are more likely than ever to hang on to their jobs.
Treasurer Wayne Swan will tell a Sydney conference employment rates among mature age workers have grown solidly for the past ten years and particularly strongly during the past three years.
He will release calculations showing that over the past year all of Australia’s employment growth has been among mature age workers.
In the year to July employment among Australians aged 55 and over surged 3.9 per cent. During the same period employment among Australians aged 54 and under grew not at all.
In Victoria the difference was particularly pronounced. Employment among mature Australians jumped 4.8 per cent while employment among younger Australians slipped 0.5 per cent. Around 23,000 more senior Australians are employed than a year ago and 11,000 fewer young Australians.
Australian National University labour market Bob Gregory said it would be wrong to conclude life was getting easier for older Australians without jobs.
“It’s still much harder to find a job if you are over 55, he told The Age. “But if you are already employed and you pass 55 you are much more likely to stay employed."...
“It’s been moving that way for a decade. Part of it is the aging of the population. There are more Australians over 55 than there used to be. Also there has been a dramatic growth in the employment of women in the past decade. As those women turn 55 and stay in work they push up the proportion of over 55s in work.”
“And there’s something else. A decade ago the government tightened access to the disability pension. Before that if a man was declared invalid, both he and his wife got the disability pension. A rule change by the Howard government meant only the man got the pension. It effectively halved the payoff from being declared invalid.”
Professor Gregory says as a result of the change both women and men have been working longer. But he says they have also been working longer in other countries suggesting more universal forces have been at work.
“It is particularly so among unskilled workers. No-one quite knows why.”
In today’s speech Mr Swan will emphasise that the prospects for older Australians who lose their jobs remain bleak.
He will say the average duration of unemployment for Australians 45 and over is 62 weeks, compared to 34 weeks for Australians aged under 45 and 24 weeks for Australians aged under 25.
In today's Canberra Times, Sydney Morning Herald and Age
. Encouraging graph - those of us over 50 are getting full-time jobs
. How long have I got? Warning: life tables appended
. How aging will change things