Yesterday The Times reported that women were losing their jobs twice as fast as men. This was on the basis that the most recent labour market data show that from Sept-Nov 2008 the female full-time employment rate fell by 53,000 compared to the male full-time employment rate (which fell by 36,000). In our view this isn’t strong evidence that women are losing jobs at twice the male rate. And there are a number of reasons: an increase in part-time employment among women; a higher male redundancy rate; and a higher male unemployment rate. In addition the broader trend over recent months (as opposed to the rolling quarter in this release) shows that male employment has been falling faster. We think more women at work will experience the effects of this recession than previously – more women are in paid work than ever before and redundancy and unemployment rates have been rising for women. But we don’t agree that women will be hit harder than men.
This does not mean that concerns about women suffering discrimination are misplaced, and current debate about how best to help unemployed women is welcome. But it is important that the extent of the problems that women will face during the downturn is not overestimated, particularly as this risks undermining the case for taking action to support them.