Women’s unemployment risen to 25 year high whilst men’s has decreased


–       Government’s plans for growth are leaving women behind: 60 per cent of ‘new’ private sector jobs have gone to men;


–       Failure to take more action risks creating a “female unfriendly” labour market characterised by persistent and rising levels of women’s unemployment; diminishing pay levels for women, and a widening of the gender pay gap.


The Fawcett Society will on Wednesday 24th April publish a new report. ‘The changing labour market: delivering for women, delivering for growth’ considers the position of women in the UK’s workforce post recession – and what could happen next. Findings include:


–       Men’s unemployment has fallen since the recession ended, women’s has increased. (1)


–       Less than half of the private sector jobs ‘created’ since the first quarter of 2010 have gone to women (2)


–       Almost three times as many women as men have become ‘long term’ unemployed in the last two and a half years – 103 000 women in comparison to 37 000 men. (3)


–       Women have borne the brunt of cuts to the public sector workforce so far, and some 75 per cent of these are yet to emerge.(4)


–       If the current pattern of women making up the majority of those losing their jobs but the minority of those benefitting from new employment opportunities continues, the worse case scenario would see some 1.48 million women unemployed by 2018. (5)


The report will be presented for consideration at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sex Equality, taking place on Wednesday 24th April from 2 pm – 3 pm in Committee Room 14 at the House of Commons.  Minister Jo Swinson will be in attendance and will respond to the findings.


Ceri Goddard, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, said:


“The labour market is in the midst of enormous change. Almost a million jobs are being cut from the public sector, while many of the jobs created by what growth there is in the private sector are low waged and insecure.


“While unemployment has fallen overall, our research shows that the situation for women is bleak. Female unemployment has started to rise – and this will continue unless the government does more than tinker around the edges of this issue.


“The government’s various plans for growth continue to leave many women behind, with the majority of new jobs being created in the private sector going to men. At the same time, those women who do find work in this sector are likely to face lower wages and a wider gender pay gap. This “head in the sand” approach ignores the fact that women are now nearly half the workforce – and has serious consequences.


“If the government doesn’t address this growing problem, we risk returning to a much more male dominated labour market, with record numbers of women unemployed, those in work typically earning less, and the gap in pay between women and men beginning to grow instead of shrink.


“Not only is this bad for women, it’s hugely damaging for our economy. Women could and should be a key part of the driving engine getting the UK’s economy back on its feet, but with investment restricted to sectors where few women work, and funding for programmes tackling gender segregation slashed, there’s little hope. (6)


“We are calling on the government – in particular the Business Secretary –  to take immediate action. We urgently need to tackle the unacceptably low wages paid to the women who make up two thirds of those on the national minimum wage, mostly in the private sector, by uprating this in line with inflation. At the same time, more must be done to encourage progressive working practices – particularly as competition for quality part-time work is fiercer than ever – women make up three-quarters of those in part-time work .


“Finally, it’s not acceptable to have plans for growth that do little if anything to tackle record levels of women’s unemployment. The government must not continue to invest solely in sectors where men dominate the workforce, such as technology and construction. Where funds are channelled in these areas, more must be done to tackle the gender stereotyping and other barriers that remain to women taking up work in these industries.


“If women continue to make up the majority of those that lose their jobs, but the minority of those being hired in new roles, the strides women have made in the workplace in the last half a century risk being undermined just when women, the families many of them support, and our economy need them more than ever.


“The government needs to change its default reaction to the economic downturn from one that drops greater women’s equality like a hot brick to seeing it as central to the growth they so crave. They can start by taking seriously the stark facts in this report. Delivering a robust and wide ranging women’s employment strategy that tackles women’s low pay, transforms workplace practices and includes women in their plans for growth would show that they are.



(1)  In the final quarter of 2010 (when the recession officially ended) men’s unemployment stood at 1,525,00. Since that point it has fallen by 7.33 per cent to reach 1,413,000. In the same period, women’s unemployment has risen by 11.88 per cent – from 962,000 to 1.076,00. (page 17 of The changing labour market: delivering for women, delivering for growth’)


Please note: the report uses figures published by the ONS in December 2012, detailing levels of employment in October 2012. At the point of publication – April 2013 – the latest ONS figures (published in April 2013, reflecting February 2013 levels of employment) show women’s unemployment now stands at 1.12 million. Overall since the start of 2013, men’s unemployment has fallen by 15,000 and women’s has increased by 40,000.


(2)  Of the 1,254,000 jobs ‘created’ in the private sector since the first quarter of 2010, men have filled some 60 per cent of posts (752 000), women have taken 40 per cent of the roles (page 23 of The changing labour market: delivering for women, delivering for growth’)


(3)  The gap between women and men’s long term unemployment has been closing particularly over the past two-and-a-half years where, from Jan – Mar 2010 to Aug – Oct 2012 the number of men long-term unemployed increased by around 37,000 (7.2per cent ), whereas the number of women long-term unemployed increased by around 103,000 (43.4per cent ). (page 17 of The changing labour market: delivering for women, delivering for growth’)


(4)  The OBR estimates that a total of 929 000 jobs will be lost in the public sector by 2018 as a result of large scale cuts to public spending. Some 230 000 of these have already been lost, leaving 699 000 to go.  (page 18 of The changing labour market: delivering for women, delivering for growth’)


(5)  Of those jobs already gone, women have made up the majority of those that have lost their jobs  (some 57.5 per cent versus 42.5 per cent for men) If, as seems likely, this skewed impact continues, some 400 000 (57.5 per cent of 699k) more women will lose their jobs in the public sector over the next four years. If they don’t find alternative work – as looks likely given the increase in women’s unemployment thus far and the disproportionately low number of women finding work in the private sector – the current 1.08 million women facing unemployment will see this further 400 000 join their ranks.  This means that in 2018, the number of women facing unemployment may be as high as 1.48 million.


(6)  A number of key successful initiatives to support women into traditionally male-dominated industries have suffered from severe funding cuts. In 2011, the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) , the government body established to combat entrenched occupational gender segregation in the SET sectors, had its funding cut by 80 per cent . It has since been merged with Women into Science, Engineering and Construction (WISE), which aims to support women into STEM subjects.





About coventrywomensvoices

Coventry Womens Voices is an independent group of women’s organisations, organisations working with women and individuals that have come together to ensure women’s voices are heard when policy is made in Coventry. Our mission is to “Make Women’s Voices Heard in Coventry”.
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