Women out of work at highest level for 25 years
As unemployment levels decrease for the first time in ten months, figures released yesterday morning show that the number of women now unemployed has risen by 8,000 to 1.14 million – the highest it has been since November 1987.
Graeme Cook, associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), who released these figures on Thursday, explained his concerns that the job market would send gender equality into reverse. He said that the figures have “massive implications for gender equality and also how households are going to improve their standard of living.”
The level of unemployment can be explained in part due to unemployed men seeking part-time work if they cannot find a full-time job. Andrew Sissons, a researcher at the Work Foundation, explained: “Previously if there were part time jobs in health and education they would have gone to women, now there’s extra competition.”
Current cuts to childcare services and working tax credits are also to blame in part, as parents and particularly women, find it harder to find and pay for the wraparound childcare that they need to take on full-time roles. Given the current competition for jobs, women who’ve stayed at home with their children for a number of years are finding it harder than ever to re-enter the job market.
The most recent statistics also suggest that older women are more affected by job cuts than younger women, with over 20,000 50- to 64-year-old women finding themselves newly unemployed in the last quarter.
According to Mr Cook, the future doesn’t look much brighter. Women currently make up around 65% of the public sector and are especially highly represented in areas like local government, where they make up 75% of workers. With proposed cuts of around 710,000 jobs from the public sector by 2015, women look sure to lose out disproportionately within the next few years.