Older people are being caught in an unemployment trap, more likely to be out of work and struggling to find another job if they are laid off or leave, according to a new study.
Almost a third of people aged 50 to 64 are not in work, many recorded as "economically inactive", which means they are not engaged in the labour market in any way, said the Centre for Ageing Better.
The charity estimated that around one million of the unemployed over 50s left work involuntarily because of issues such as ill health, caring responsibilities or redundancy.
The problem will get dramatically worse because of the rising state pension age unless urgent action is taken, it was warned.
Jemma Mouland of the Centre for Ageing Better said: "Too many older workers are currently being pushed out of the workforce because of poor health, caring responsibilities, or redundancy.
"Once they have lost their job, over 50s struggle much more than any other age group to get back to work, which is costly personally and financially for them, with impacts lasting well into later life.
"Given that we are all working for longer and our workforce is ageing, we need urgent action to break this vicious circle."
Almost two out of five unemployed people over 50 have been out of work for over a year, twice as many as 18 to 24-year-olds, the research showed.
The charity claimed that employment support was failing older people, with only one in six people over 50 successfully supported into a job after being referred to the Government's Work Programme.
Employment Minister Damian Hinds said: "The number of workers aged 50 and over is at a record high - nearly 10 million.
"Older workers have a huge amount to offer employers. That's why we've joined forces with industry to implement our Fuller Working Lives strategy, so more older people and business leaders can reap the benefits of staying in work."
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