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app kiếm tiền online:UK labour shortage linked to early pensions

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Employment poser: A bookshop assistant works in Bayswater, west London. A report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs committee has found that the shortage is not confined to skilled-labour, but in low-skilled jobs as well. — AFP

LONDON: Changes to the United Kingdom pension system that allow workers to draw their retirement pots early may be partly to blame for the country’s chronic labour shortage, according to a group of lawmakers.

Since the pandemic, the UK workforce participation has crashed more sharply than in any other leading economy, with the bulk of the decline in those older than 50, many of whom have chosen to retire early.

A report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs committee suggests the older workers feel financially secure enough to retire after building up a pot of enforced savings during lockdowns, pocketing redundancy cheques and using the 2015 “pension freedom” reforms to cash in their retirement pots from the age of 55.

The study, titled “Where have all the workers gone?” examines the 565,000 increase in economic inactivity in the UK since the start of the pandemic.

Inactivity is a measure of people who neither have nor want a job. It also showed that “mismatches” between jobs available and the number of workers qualified to fill them are partly due to the immigration system since the UK left the European Union (EU).

The scale of drop-outs from the workforce has, uniquely among leading nations, left the UK with fewer people in employment than before Covid hit in early 2020. That’s posing major economic challenges for the country and fanning inflation.

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“A shortage of labour exacerbates the current inflationary challenge, damages growth in the near term and reduces the revenues available to finance public services,” according to the committee, which includes former Bank of England governor Mervyn King.

“Early retirement is the biggest of four factors that have made it harder to fill jobs. Increasing sickness, changes in the structure of migration and an ageing UK population have also contributed.”

Official figures have suggested that the main reason for the increase in inactivity has been long-term sickness. But the peers said the effect was overstated because the rising levels of ill-health have been concentrated among those who were already inactive.

Long-term sickness, including mental health, “does appear to be one factor, but it is unlikely to have been the overwhelming driver of labour force exit than it first appears,” the committee said.

A backlog of seven million delayed operations in the National Health Service is “exacerbating the situation,” the committee said. It was sceptical about the impact of long-Covid symptoms.

Instead, its report found that retirement was key, driven by the relative high level of wealth among older workers. Two-thirds of those aged between 50 and 64 own their homes without a mortgage and many have significant personal savings, including pensions.

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