A good week for employment – as long as no one mentions women
This week’s unemployment figures came as a welcome surprise to many people as Richard Exell points out in his Left Foot Forward blog.
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.
The only losers in this week’s employment figures are 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.