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Record numbers working past retirement age – but doing what?

Inside 10 years there could be almost two million Britons over the age of 65 still working, new figures show.

But while rising life expectancy, plummeting pension returns and a soaring cost of living for older Britons explain this, the question of where older Britons will find work in a country with millions already unemployed has rarely been looked at.

“The most common jobs for men working past state pension age are farming and taxi driving [currently]. For women it's cleaning,” the ONS revealed today.

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A problem right now, that’s only getting worse

Increasing longevity and the need to boost retirement income mean an increasing number of older people in Britain are already working past the current pension age.

In 1993 there were 753,000 people working past state pension age, this figure stayed flat until around the year 2000, but since then almost doubled to 1.45 million in 2010.

In fact, between the first quarter of 2008 and the fourth quarter of 2010 alone the number of over-65s in the workforce increased 19.5%, while the number of over-65s working full time soared 20% and those in part time employment jumped by 20%.

Stuart Wilson, marketing director for Primetime Retirement, said all retirement income options should be investigated for the over-65s.

"Retirement income solutions have to adapt to the new reality and current solutions will not be suitable for all,” he said.

"Those who are in good health and still working want to keep their options open in retirement and need retirement income solutions which are flexible enough to adapt."

[Related story: 6 million Brits have no retirement savings]

Staying on, not starting again

The research showed two-thirds of those in work after the age of 65 had been with their current employer for 10 years of more.

Men are more likely than women to work full-time past state pension age, with 4.6% of men working full time and 7.3% part time.

In contrast, 3.6% of women work full time and 8.9% part time, according to the forecast which came from analysis of Office for National Statistics records.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK, said: "While the tough economic climate may be partly responsible for the increase in the number of post retirement age workers, it is good news that many older people are not being locked out of the job market because of their age.

"But these figures are only part of the story. The overall employment picture for many older workers is grim. More than 45% of unemployed people aged 50-64 have been out of work for more than a year - significantly higher than any other age group.

"With the state pension age due to rise in the near future, it is more critical than ever that the Government acts to ensure employers do not overlook the skills and experience which older workers offer."

[Related story: France lowers state retirement age]