A good week for employment… if women are ignored


10:34 am - April 16th 2011

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contribution by Scarlett Harris

This week’s unemployment figures came as a welcome surprise to many people as Richard Exell points out at Left Foot Forward.

As Richard explains, the rise in employment and the drop in unemployment seem to be genuinely good news and not masking a boom in “atypical” work such as temporary or self-employed jobs. So, good news all round then? Alas, not for women.

While the number of male JSA claimants fell by 4,400 on the month to reach 988,200 in March 2011, the number of women claimants increased by 5,100 to reach 462,300. That’s the highest figure for 15 years.

The government’s figures also show that this isn’t a blip, it’s a trend. The number of male claimants has been falling for over a year while the number of female claimants has been steadily rising for nine months.

The most obvious explanation for this is that more women than men work in the public sector so mass redundancies and recruitment freezes in the public sector will inevitably have a disproportionate effect on women and lead to more women signing on. I’ve blogged about this before in the context of the gender pay gap

Another factor is likely to be more single mothers finding themselves pushed from Income Support onto JSA. Since November 2008 single parents with children over a certain age have been required to seek work. The age of the youngest child has been steadily decreasing year on year – from twelve in 2008, to seven in 2010, and to five later this year.

According to the government this has led to 250,000 single parents moving from Income Support to job seeking requirements since 2008.

As public sector job cuts continue apace, the retail sector – an important source of jobs for women in the private sector – faces a bleak future, and more single mothers are pushed into seeking work which simply isn’t there, I’m sorry to say the future doesn’t look rosy for female employment.

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Reader comments


1. Luis Enrique

the FT says the good news was a blip, resulting from the way the data series is constructed:

http://blogs.ft.com/money-supply/2011/04/13/do-not-believe-the-headline-employment-figures/

Hang on, when the recession began weren’t far more men than women losing jobs? So because of different work patterns it has taken longer for women to be affected but they were bound to be subject to the same forces sooner or later. Given that women on average began this process later, recovery will likely be later as well.

Or is the problem that it’s fine for men to lose their jobs but nothing so tragic can ever be allowed to happen to women?

2
Actually, it is no suprise to me that employers dispense with male workers first
as women tend do more part-time work,which reduces costs to the employer such as NI contributions, and women tend to
Also, women’s pay, despite legislation, is still around a third less than men, so there is an incentive for employers to hold on to female workers.

@3
The third line should read – and women tend to have short-term contracts in the retail/service industries.

Erm, try totting up your own statistics.

“According to the government this has led to 250,000 single parents moving from Income Support to job seeking requirements since 2008.”

The vast majority, but not all, of those single parents will be women. Say, just or the sake of argument, 200,000 of them.

“The government’s figures also show that this isn’t a blip, it’s a trend. The number of male claimants has been falling for over a year while the number of female claimants has been steadily rising for nine months.”

So you’ve got your numbers without having to invoke the public sector thing already, don’t you?

200,000 divided by 36 months (let’s just pretend that this single parent thing moves equally by the month) and we’ve got 5,500 women a month being added to the JSA rolls.

“March 2011, the number of women claimants increased by 5,100 to reach 462,300. That’s the highest figure for 15 years.”

And that’s the highest for 15 years: meaning that until this month the number of women being added to the JSA rolls has actually been less than the number of female single parents we’d expect to be being added, purely from the move from income support to JSA.

So aren’t you in fact showing that job opportunities for women are better ?

5
Job opportunities for women are better for the reasons I gave in ‘2, 3..

So aren’t you in fact showing that job opportunities for women are better ?

Err no, it shows that the trend of women getting unemployed is getting worse.

It was also bad for Wales as well.

Headline stats don’t always tell us much.

Luckily, women have other priorities than finding employment: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/gender-pay-gap/


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