The Madonna generation: Women over 50 defy recession to boost working numbers


13:13 GMT, 18 April 2012



13:13 GMT, 18 April 2012

A ‘Madonna generation’ of older women over the age of 50 has defied the jobs recession, new figures have revealed.

There are 200,000 more women aged 50 to 64 in work than at the start of the recession in 2008, compared to just 3,000 more men in jobs.

There are currently nearly 400,000 fewer men in work than at the start of 2008, however, the number of women who have lost their jobs in the same period is just 8,000.

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The figures are revealed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in its latest work audit report which looks at how the recession has affected men and women of different ages.

The report found there are 271,000 or eight per cent more women aged 50-64 in the labour market than at the start of the recession.

Women aged 50 to 64, and men and women aged 65 and over are the only age groups to have registered an increase in both the number in work and employment rates since the start of the jobs recession and have also registered the smallest increases in unemployment.

People aged 25 to 34 are the only other age group to see a rise in employment over the course of the jobs recession, with the number in work increasing by 250,000.

Prominent in the work place: Women are entering the labour market after a male partner has kost a job or because of dwindling pension income

Prominent in the work place: Women are entering the labour market after a male partner has kost a job or because of dwindling pension income

Although the number of unemployed women
has increased by almost half a million, to reach a record level of 1.1
million, the CIPD says this is not due to fewer jobs for women, but
instead to nearly half a million more women who class themselves as
available for work.

The relatively stronger employment outcome for women is mainly the result of a substantial rise of 172,000 (16.3%) in the number of women in self-employment.

The number of women working full time as employees has fallen by 220,000, partly offset by a 44,000 rise in part-time employment.

Women have done well in managerial, professional and technical occupations but have fared worse in traditional feminine jobs.

The number of women in administrative, secretarial, sales and customer services roles has fallen by almost 400,000 since the start of the recession.

Dr John Philpott, chief economic adviser at the CIPD, said: 'There are a number of reasons for the rise in women in jobs.

'The government is encouraging more lone parent mothers to seek work.

'Women may be entering the labour market from households where a male partner has lost a job, or to supplement the pay of a male partner which may have been squeezed in the recession.

'More older women have been looking to find work because of dwindling pension income. There has also been an increase in younger female migrant workers.

'Finally, the preponderance of part-time jobs being created in the labour market at present might be enticing in women returning from a period of early years childrearing and looking for suitable part-time positions to combine work with care for slightly older school age children.'

'When it comes to work, older people have clearly fared better than young people during the jobs recession. But what’s also clear is that older women have done best of all.'

'Just why this is happening requires further examination, though with the modern generation of 50 something women more likely to view Madonna than Grandma Grey as a role model, the economically active older woman is well on course to be ever more prominent in British workplaces in the coming years.'