Job good news for older workers, bad for the young

One of the more curious things in Australian politics is the occasional media burp, which produces a news good story on older workers and older job seekers. There was a positive news story in the States recently about employing people 50+.

Having written about the Boomers for the past ten years or so – and being one of them – all I can say is that it’s about time.

Unfortunately though in Australia, much of the growth in jobs for the 55+ is through bracket creep. People are staying in jobs longer and so as people in their late 50s move in to the next age bracket, they keep on working. It therefore looks like more older people are in jobs. It’s a statistical trick.

Older workers have absorbed half of Australia's net growth in jobs since the global financial crisis. The most startling growth has been in men and women working on into their late 60s. In five years, their numbers have shot up from 172,000 to 278,000.

Even so, job ads across the board for older job seekers are miserably low. DOME in SA has 60 jobs, 50 of which are current but they are almost all menial jobs in the $35K-43K bracket. Ditto Adage and Older Worker. Too bad if you wore a white shirt to work or ran a business.

Less than half of those aged 15-19 have a job. Younger workers have shed 93,000 jobs in the past five years, while school retention rates have soared. The 'good news' is that while the teenage population has barely grown, 75,500 more of them now spend their late teens full-time at school or university.

The percentage of 15-19-year-olds in full-time education has risen from 66.9 per cent to 71.6 per cent. Australia has become a different labour market after the global financial crisis. It has more workers aged 55+ in jobs than people 25 and under.

Comparing the first four months of this year with the same period in 2008, the ABS found the number of women over 60 in work has grown by half, from 280,000 to 423,000. A quarter of all job growth has gone to women aged 55 and over.

The downside is that jobs for younger men have shrunk rapidly: 57,000 fewer teenage males now have a full-time job, down 31 per cent. The main reason is that more are staying at school, but 19,000 more teenage males now have no job and no full-time education.

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