Employment Patterns Changing

The rise in employment in the UK has been partially spurred by a marked increase in the number of freelancers, as well as an increase in the number of older workers, while the number of women in jobs has reached a record high.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the five-year low for unemployment in the three months to the end of February has been driven by 146,000 new self-employed workers, bringing the total to 4.5 million.

Meanwhile, the number of older people coming in to the labour market has also had an impact. There were 262,000 more people aged between 50 and 64 in the workplace this February than a year earlier and there was a 12.6 per cent rise in the number of over-65s in jobs since February 2013.

This compares with a rise of only 3.6 per cent in the number of 25 to 34-year-olds in work and a negligible increase of only 2,000 people in the number of working 35 to 49-year-olds.

Women are now closing the gender gap in the world of work too, with 67.6 per cent of women aged between 16 and 64 now in employment. This compares with 77.6 per cent of men in the same age group being employed and is quite a change, as fewer than two-thirds of women were employed only two years ago.

However, the figures also show that women are mainly working part-time. In the three months to February, there were only 8.09 million women working full-time, compared to 14.2 million men.

In fact, the number of women working part-time is increasing, with 65,000 more of them in part-time jobs over the period, taking the total to six million compared to only 2.17 million men in part-time work.