‘Employment rises for women, but they are most likely to be furloughed’

New statistics show employment rates fell for men in the last quarter, but increased for women.

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Employment rates fell for men during the first part of the most recent lockdown, but rose for women, according to the latest Office of National Statistics figures, although women were more likely to be furloughed than men.

The figures also show youth employment is continuing to fall and accounts for three-fifths of all employee jobs lost over the course of the pandemic.

The ONS’ figures for the three months to February show the estimated employment rate for men was 78.2%, 2.3 percentage points down on the same period the previous year and 0.3 percentage points down on the quarter. The estimated employment rate for women was 72.1%, 0.6 percentage points down on the same period the previous year, but 0.1 percentage points up on the quarter.

The quarterly fall in employment was mainly driven by decreases in the number of full-time self-employed people and part-time employees. The decrease in full-time self-employed people was largely driven by men, while the decrease in part-time employees was driven by women. The quarterly decrease was partly offset by an increase in full-time employees to a record high, which was mainly driven by women.

There was a quarterly fall in unemployment [down 0.1% to 4.9%], the first since October to December 2019, while the economic inactivity rate increased, as it did during the first lockdown.

Redundancies were up on the year, but significantly down on the previous quarter with the age group with the highest redundancy rate this quarter being those aged 50 years and over, although those aged 25 to 34 have the highest rates for the year.

The number of people in long-term unemployment (those unemployed for over 12 months) has increased by 56,000 on the year, and 6,000 on the quarter, to 363,000.

Separate figures show many people who are employed are currently furloughed – 4.7 million jobs were reported to be furloughed as of the end of February. Women were more likely to be furloughed than men – with 2.34 million women furloughed at the end of February, compared to 2.14 million men.

The Claimant Count for March increased to 2.7 million – up 0.4% on February and 114.3% on March 2020.

Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies said: “Today’s figures confirm our view last month that the labour market has stopped weakening and that unemployment may have reached its peak for now.  But while the headlines will focus on the slight dip in the unemployment rate, the bigger story is the continued crisis for young people.  Youth long-term unemployment has hit a five-year high this morning, while youth employment is still falling even as it starts to rise for every other age group.  This reflects the cumulative impact of three lockdowns, dragging down hiring and shutting down youth jobs.  But if we don’t act quickly, in particular by focusing our support on the long-term unemployed, then we are risking another lost generation.”



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