The big quit is being fueled by older workers who are too sick to continue working and not by Covid, experts warned, as they said long waits for NHS treatment was adding to the problem..
Record numbers of people have quit their jobs in recent years, with a fifth of workers saying they plan to quit this year, in a phenomenon that has been linked to disillusionment since the pandemic.
The trend has been attributed to the Covid pandemic, but a new analysis from the Health Foundation found that in older people it had started much earlier.
By the second quarter of 2022, 200,000 older workers ages 50 to 69 had left employment due to health problems since the start of the pandemic.
But analysts found that by early 2020, some 110,000 older workers had already left the workforce for health reasons compared to 2014.
They found that this downturn was masked by a general uptick in employment driven by younger groups.
Uptick in ill health before the pandemic
Before the pandemic, the proportion of people not working due to long-term health problems was about 63 percent, and it has only risen to 64 percent this year. suggesting that Covid is not to blame for current levels of non-work.
Alice Major, an analyst at the Health Foundation, who led the research, said: “More and more older workers are forced to leave work due to ill health.
“Covid has played a factor, through long Covid and healthcare delays, but our analysis shows that the problem dates back to before the pandemic. There is a longer term problem with rising levels of ill health that cannot be attributed to covid.
“If he The Government’s growth plan is to achieve its general objectives, you must treat health and wealth as inseparable. Focusing on supporting people with ill health to get back into employment can boost labor supply and make a substantial contribution to growth,” added Ms Major.
Around 700,000 people have left the British workforce. since the pandemic, but experts are more concerned about the 300,000 people aged 50 to 69 because they are at higher risk of never going back to work.
Cardiovascular problems and depression.
Of the 3.5 million people aged 50 to 69 who were not working at the end of the summer this year, 1.6 million reported poor health as the main reason for inactivity.
The team found that there had been a large increase in cardiovascular problems and depression as a reason for not working.
And they found that rising NHS waiting lists are also likely to be playing a role, with one in 50 of those under 70 saying they weren’t looking for work while waiting for treatment.
Recent ONS research found that a fifth (18 per cent) of people aged 50 to 65 who left work during the pandemic, and have not returned since, are on an NHS waiting list.
Nearly 1 in 4 people inactive due to health problems want to work or are looking for work but are unavailable to start because of their health, the report’s authors found.
Although many people have long blamed Covid for the downturn in the workforce, most are on sick leave and still in employment, the analysis suggests.
The Health Foundation said the long Covid, cost-of-living crisis and waiting lists were simply exacerbating a pre-pandemic trend of the rising prevalence of poor health and poor health as a reason for inactivity.
They have called for urgent action to re-engage those who are long-sick and want to return to work, and for businesses and government to do more to help keep people working in the first place and keep people healthy. people.