Women, particularly older women, driving employment figures

ONS statistics show women are behind much of the jobs growth in the last few months.

older woman


UK unemployment rate fell to an estimated 3.8% in the three months to April, according to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, with women driving much of the growth.

The figures show the number of women working increased by 0.2 percentage points to 72.0% while the number of employed men fell by 0.2 percentage points to 80.3%.

The number of employees fell by 38,000 on the quarter to 27.67 million in the three months to April 2019. The decrease was driven by the fall in the number of men, down by 80,000 on the quarter to 13.92 million. The number of women increased by 42,000 to 13.75 million over the same period.

The number of self-employed workers increased by 74,000 on the quarter to 4.91 million. The number of self-employed men increased by 47,000 to 3.29 million and that of women increased by 28,000 to 1.62 million.

Older people account for a significant section t of the job growth. The number of people in the age group 65 years and older in employment more than doubled in size to 1.3 million between January to March 2006 and the three months to April 2019. The age group 50 to 64 years increased from 6.96 million to 9.2 million over the same period.

The ONS says this phenomenon was caused partly by the equalisation of the State Pension age for women with that of men. It adds that the increase in the employment of people who are over 64 years old may be motivated by several factors, including financial considerations and the need to maintain cognitive abilities. Moreover, it says, people are remaining in the labour market for longer due partly to the removal of a default retirement age.

Meanwhile, pay growth is very sluggish, the figures show. Regular pay increased by 3.4% on the year, with private sector regular pay up by 3.5% on the year compared to 2.8% for public sector total pay. However, real total pay [adjusted for inflation] increased by just 1.2% and real regular pay by 1.5% in the year to April 2019. The ONS puts low pay growth down to ongoing economic uncertainty over Brexit.

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