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The state of equality and human rights 2015: The age at work position

by on November 2, 2015

The recent publication of the ‘Is Britain Fairer?’ report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has garnered a few headlines. Many of these have focused on the situation regarding young people (as here in The Telegraph which talks about the young becoming a new economic underclass).  The basis of this assessment is that job prospects and earnings for younger people have fallen faster than for other groups during the economic downturn and they are less likely to have enjoyed what ‘fruits of recovery’ there have been.

Some of the other age at work findings in the report include:

  • all age groups below the age of 55 experienced significant reductions in average hourly pay, with the biggest declines in the younger age groups;
  • demand for apprenticeships is outstripping supply, with particular concerns raised over insufficient opportunities for those who are under 25 and for the unemployed;
  • Self-employment has especially increased among older people, women and migrant workers since mid 2010;
  • those working part time, single parents, older workers and people with disabilities seem to find it especially difficult to escape from low pay;
  • Younger people, women and ethnic minorities continued to be under-represented in local councils in Britain;
  • The employment gap between young people and older people widened in the period from mid 2010 (though this is partially explained by a rise in the former participating in full-time education);
  • Gender pay gaps widen with age. In 2013, the gaps ranged from 3.5% for those 16–24 and 5.3% for the 22–29 age groups, to above 20% for all those aged 40 plus. For those aged 50 and over, the gaps have changed little since 2005 whereas, in younger age groups, the gaps are narrowing.

It’s quite a complex picture and I was particularly intrigued by the relationship between age groups and the gender pay gap. The report contains a comprehensive list of references to support the various figures cited and these would be worth closer examination for those interested in looking beyond the headlines.

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