Older workers have done better during the recession than their younger counterparts, new figures revealed yesterday.

Employment rates for senior citizens held up in the hard times and are now on the rise, while men and women are working longer before they retire.

The South West has the country's highest proportion of pensioners, with the population living longer than elsewhere.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday the employment rate for men aged 65 and over was 10.7 per cent in June 2008, remained above 10 per cent in the recession and reached 11.7 per cent last November.

And 13.5 per cent of women aged 60 and over were in work last November, compared with 12.3 per cent in June 2008.

In contrast young people's employment fell in the 2008-09 recession and has not recovered – a fifth of 16-24-year-olds are jobless, a total of 951,000 and the highest since records began.

However, two-thirds of pensioners are in part-time jobs, 68 per cent of employed women over 60 and 59 per cent of men over 65.

That compares with just 12 per cent of employed men aged 50 to 64 in part-time employment and 43 per cent of women aged 50 to 59.

The Office for National Statistics has also found people are working longer before they retire, even before the state pension age starts rising.

It measures what it calls the average age of withdrawal from the labour market, which for men has risen from 63.8 years in 2004 to 64.5 in 2009, and for women from 61.2 to 62 years over that period.

Sarah Levy, head of the ONS pensions analysis unit, said: "This indicator of average age of withdrawal from the labour market will be important to watch in coming years as state pension age rises."

Pensioners make up 22.5 per cent of the South West's population, while 17.7 per cent are under-16.

Men aged 65 in the region in 2006-08 could expect to live another 18.4 years, and women 21.2 years, with both statistics are better than 17.5 and 20.2 years for the nation as a whole.

The Government's Pension Bill will ban bosses from forcing staff to retire at 65, which campaigners have welcomed as a significant boost against age discrimination.

It also brings forward the rise in the state pension age to 66 – it will now happen in 2020, four years earlier than planned.

Article from The Bath Chronicle