Today's ONS labour market figures show health related inactivity at record highs

Published  16 May 2023
   1 min read

Data released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows what happened in the UK labour market in the first quarter of 2023.

Clare Moffat, pensions expert at Royal London, comments:

  • Decrease in economic inactivity in general but not for older workers
  • Menopause is an underreported factor responsible for workforce exodus of women over 50 

"Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that economic inactivity, when working-age adults are neither in work nor looking, has decreased from January to March this year. But much of this was driven by those in the age 16 to 24 category. Significantly, economic inactivity has increased for workers between 50 and 64. The Chancellor announced measures in his March Budget to address this point, so hopefully we will see a reversal of this trend in the months ahead.

"Health related economic inactivity also saw an increase and is at a record high. While a wide range of health conditions will be included in this, including Covid, menopausal symptoms are undoubtedly a significant one. However, there remains a lack of support for women in the workplace resulting in an increasing number having to leave the world of work.

"Menopausal symptoms can prevent women from working and saving as much as they would like, with almost a million women leaving their job as a consequence, while many others are forced to reduce their hours. Quite apart from the loss of income, this also means women may miss out on important pension savings at a key stage in their life, resulting in them being up to £126,000 worse off in retirement, potentially widening an already significant gender pensions gap.

"Ultimately helping to solve the issue, through improving how women experiencing the menopause are accommodated in the workplace, would help them and ensure the economy benefits too."

Notes to editor

Full time Stop working at age 50 Difference
£355,510 £229,202 £126,308

Royal London analysis: Based on a pension fund of £100k at age 50, earning £40k with 2.5% wage growth until state pension age of 67, investment growth of 5% (not including charges), monthly contributions of 10%.

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About Royal London

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £147 billion, 8.7 million policies in force and over 4,200 employees. Figures quoted are as at 31 December 2022. Learn more at