Older workers lose out on jobs

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The Independent Online
Barrie Clement

Labour Editor

Long term unemployment among adult workers who may be considered "too expensive" by employers, has doubled in five years, according to analysis of official figures.

The increase among 25 to 49-year-olds compares with a 32 per cent rise among all workers and just 23 per cent for those under 25, according to the Unemployment Unit, the research group. All workers who have been out of work for two years are defined as |"long term unemployed".

Other figures show a decline of six per cent among people over 55, but that is explained by the fact that almost 200,000 older people have simply "dropped out" of the labour market.

The figures are published in advance of a Private Members Bill, to be tabled tomorrow by Labour MP David Winnick, which would make it an offence to specify an upper age limit in job advertisements. The figures show that biggest rise in long term unemployment among adults was in the south east of England.

Ian McCartney, a Labour employment spokesman, said the figures were "devastating" and showed the need for legislation to prevent employers discriminating against older workers."A problem on this scale demands legislation _ it is not good enough for the Government to rely on persuasion."

Using data from the Labour Force Survey, which does not rely on government definitions of "actively seeking work" to categorise the unemployed, the Unemployment Unit found almost two-thirds of jobless 55 to 65-year-olds have been out of work for two years or more.