Coronavirus: over-55s main victims of employment crisis, watchdog finds

Older workers are shouldering the burden of pandemic job losses and pay cuts

Coronavirus UK
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Workers over the age of 50 have suffered larger cuts to their earnings than any other age group during the economic downturn triggered by coronavirus, a new report reveals.

Britain’s oldest workers have seen their pay fall by an average of 23%, while millennials and middle-aged workers have been hit by salary cuts of 19% and 17% respectively, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The watchdog also found that despite “reports that millennials have faced the worst job losses”, so-called baby boomers - people born between 1946 and 1964 - are just as likely as 20- to 39-year-olds to have been made redundant during the pandemic, says The Telegraph.

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The FCA says that 6% of both groups have lost their jobs during the pandemic - three times the percentage of employees aged between 40 to 54 who have faced redundancies.

Meanwhile, 5% of over-55s are working fewer hours or are on reduced pay, compared with 3% of millennial and middle-aged workers.

The new report warns that older workers who are yet to retire were “now confronting real financial hardship and challenges ahead”, and notes that older people who are made redundant may get fewer opportunities to retrain.

Job losses have come thick and fast in recent weeks, as companies begin planning for life after the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end. As of 27 July, 150,301 people in the UK had been made redundant, and the wages of more than 9.3 million staff were being paid by the government, according to The Guardian.

On Tuesday, Selfridges announced plans to cut 450 jobs across its department stores - 14% of the company’s overall workforce, Sky News says.

High-street bakery Greggs is also mulling redundancies, as the firm enters talks over funding to make it through a potential second lockdown, adds the Financial Times.

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Joe Evans is the world news editor at He joined the team in 2019 and held roles including deputy news editor and acting news editor before moving into his current position in early 2021. He is a regular panellist on The Week Unwrapped podcast, discussing politics and foreign affairs. 

Before joining The Week, he worked as a freelance journalist covering the UK and Ireland for German newspapers and magazines. A series of features on Brexit and the Irish border got him nominated for the Hostwriter Prize in 2019. Prior to settling down in London, he lived and worked in Cambodia, where he ran communications for a non-governmental organisation and worked as a journalist covering Southeast Asia. He has a master’s degree in journalism from City, University of London, and before that studied English Literature at the University of Manchester.