Stuart Lewis of Rest Less, an online community for over-50s, said: “The mass exodus of mid-lifers is in full swing. There are thousands who have given up and left the workforce involuntarily after struggling for months or years to find their next job. They feel shut out and left behind. This is happening while we live through one of the worst cost of living crises in decades.”
Deborah Lewis, 60, from Wigan, has been unemployed since May last year and has been forced to dip into her pension even though she is not ready to retire. She has repeatedly applied for relevant jobs but has not even been shortlisted, she said.
“I lost a lot of confidence and started to question my own abilities. It’s really disheartening. It’s horrifying that I’ve been out of a job for 10 months. I’ve always secured a role very quickly in the past but now I’m not even getting an interview,” she added.
Rising prices of energy, food and fuel have left Ms Lewis with no choice but to spend her pension. “It feels like I’m being pushed into retirement. I still have so much to offer. I’m not ready to retire,” she said. “My pension may seem like an easy solution, but I don’t have a partner and it needs to last.”
Only one in five of those over the age of 55 who still wants to work is confident they will be able to find paid employment, research from Just Group, a pensions firm, found.
Jenny Chapman, 61, from London, said she lost her position at work, which gave her little choice but to retire last September.
The former teacher said she was squeezed out of her senior role into a lower paid job that would have affected her final salary pension had she taken it. “It was because I was an older woman. I have seen time and time again through friends and family that businesses make older people’s lives difficult. Age discrimination is absolutely rife,” she said.
Since she left that job Ms Chapman has had to supplement her income by tutoring. She also gives financial support to her two children, who are at university. “When my children applied for university I assumed I would still be working for years to come,” she said.