TEN thousand fewer adults are working in Cumbria compared to two years ago, according to a business leader.

Suzanne Caldwell, of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said a 'significant' proportion of people aged 50 or over are not in employment in Cumbria. 

Her comments came as the boss of John Lewis, Dame Sharon White, saying the exodus of over-50s who left the workforce during the pandemic is currently fuelling wage inflation.

According to the Chamber of Commerce, there are around ten thousand fewer 16-64-year-olds in the county in work than there were two years ago.

Ms Caldwell said: "Anecdotally a significant proportion of those are in the over 50 age group. It does appear that many people re-thought and re-prioritised during lockdown, and for quite a number that involved deciding to retire early or work fewer hours."

According to the Office for National Statistics, retirement is the most popular given by people aged between 50 and 70 for not working.

Ms Caldwell said the jobs market is different to previous years when over-50s found it difficult to find new employment, remarking 'most employers are keen to recruit people of whatever age.' 

Ms Caldwell said: "There are clear benefits to employing people over 50. They bring years of experience not just of work but of life, and this often means particular skills in empathy, dealing with customers, working as part of a team, and so on. 

"This age group tends to be more settled in a job and less likely to be looking to change jobs or build a career."  

READ MORE: Fewer people in work in Cumbria than two years ago

Dame White said any government must think 'really hard' about how to get older people back into work. 

The UK has seen one million people, mostly in their 50s, leave work since the start of Covid-19. 

Inflation is currently at a 40-year high, and the Bank of England warned that the UK will fall into recession later this year. 

Dame Sharon said that she had 'never' seen 'such a combination of very difficult factors' impacting the economy, including when she worked as boss of Ofcom.