Jobless figures point to rise of 'part-time Britain'
Women account for over 80% of the unemployment figures for the three months to January this year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
The figures show unemployment has risen slightly to 2.67 million during the three months to January with many people who are looking for full-time jobs having to settle for part-time jobs.
The unemployment rate was 8.4%, up from 8.3% on the previous quarter, with public sector job losses up by 37,000. The figures also show the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance increased by 7,200 to 1.61 million in February.
However, the rise in unemployment was the lowest for nearly a year and the number of people in work was up by 9,000, boosted by an increase of 45,000 people employed in the private sector. Average earnings rose by 1.4% in 2011.
The statistics also show that many people are taking part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time posts. There was a 9.4% increase in the number of women who took part-time jobs in the three months to January because they could not find full-time posts. The number of self-employed women working full-time also increased by 3.4% over 2011, although it remained static in the last quarter.
The number of women seeking work was 22,000, compared to just 6,000 men, but the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development says this is in part because more women are entering the job market.
Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the CIPD said men were more likely to lose their jobs in 2011 rather than women. "The current popular narrative suggesting that female employment is falling and unemployment rising relative to that of men because of the impact of fiscal austerity is therefore not supported by the available data," he said.
He added: “The CIPD doesn’t wish to downplay the importance of the rise in female unemployment but we do consider it necessary to establish why this is happening. It is not, as the cruder headlines run, because ‘women are losing jobs at a faster rate than men’. Male employment is falling whereas female employment is rising, with female unemployment rising because the increase in the female labour supply is outstripping the rise in female jobs.
“The rise in female labour supply is interesting. There are a number of likely reasons all of which probably play some part. The government is encouraging more lone parent mothers to seek work. Women may be entering the labour market from households where a male partner has lost a job, or to supplement the pay of a male partner which may have been squeezed in the recession. More older women have been looking to find work because of dwindling pension income. There has also been an increase in younger female migrant workers. Finally, the preponderance of part-time jobs being created in the labour market at present might be enticing in women returning from a period of early years childrearing and looking for suitable part-time positions to combine work with care for slightly older school age children.”
Philpott called the latest unemployment statistics "mildly encouraging". "The rate of increase in joblessness clearly slowed around the turn of the year, with private sector job creation just about managing to outpace public sector job cuts," he said.
"However, the good news on jobs is tempered by the fact that the rise in employment is being driven primarily by growth in part-time jobs, leaving a record 1.3 million people who want full-time working having to scrape by on whatever income short hours provide. Combined with a very low rate of pay increases - which are still lagging far behind price inflation - the emergence of 'part-time Britain' shows that even though the rise in unemployment may be slowing there is an increasingly tight squeeze on most people's standard of living."
Andrew Sissons, researcher at The Work Foundation, said: “The drop in full-time work is particularly worrying. There are nearly 1.4 million people in part-time work who cannot find a full-time job, and this figure is rising rapidly. This suggests that companies are still nervous about taking on full-time staff, and leaves many more people looking for extra work.
“Without a rapid turnaround in the economy, we will see unemployment grow further over the coming months. This unemployment problem will take many years to reverse, and may turn into a long-term structural issue. Stemming the unemployment crisis should the Chancellor’s top priority in the Budget.”
The CIPD released a report yesterday which looked at the impact of redundancies since 2008 on the UK economy. It said almost one in ten employees had been made redundant since 2008. It also found that two-thirds of people made redundant are paid less in the next job they find. On average the pay penalty is 28% and that high and rising unemployment has put downward pressure on pay increases since 2008. The proportion of employees receiving a pay increase has dropped from two-thirds in 2008 to less than half (45%) in 2011. In cash terms the average worker is £3,000 a year worse off than if pay had increased at the pre-recession rate, says the CIPD.