STUC raises fears about rising unemployment amongst women

June 15th 2011

In advance of the June labour market statistics for Scotland, the STUC is drawing attention to the serious divergence in the male and female unemployment trends in Scotland.

In the year to April 2011:

• The number of women claiming JSA increased by 18% while the number of men claiming JSA fell by 4.1%;

• The number of women claiming JSA for over 6 months increased by 17.2% over while the number men in the same position fell by 7.6%; and,

• The number of young women (aged 18-24) claiming JSA increased by 9.9% while the number of young men claiming JSA fell marginally.

This trend is being driven by a number of factors:

• Public sector job losses – 18,000 jobs were lost from the public sector in Scotland in the year to December 2010; before the vast bulk of spending cuts are implemented. Women currently account for around two-thirds of the public sector workforce in Scotland;

• A number of sectors where women accounted for the majority of the workforce were particularly badly hit in the recession and its aftermath. These include retail and retail banking;

• The moving of single parents, 95% of whom are women, off Income Support and onto JSA. Women are now forced to move onto JSA when their youngest child reaches the age of five. Therefore the number of women seeking work has increased as the number of employment opportunities has fallen. This situation is exacerbated by rising childcare costs, a decline in the number of childcare places and the fall in public sector employment which tends to offer more family friendly flexible working opportunities.

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said:

“The falling headline rate of unemployment masks a number of trends which confirm that the Scottish labour market remains in a parlous state. These include the scale of youth unemployment, rising ‘under-employment’ and persistent long-term unemployment.

“Today the STUC highlights another deeply worrying trend: rising unemployment amongst women. Over the past year, as the labour market has appeared to stabilise, the prospects for women finding work have seriously declined. The coalition’s unnecessary and damaging cuts will only serve to exacerbate this decline as decent, flexible jobs in the public sector disappear.

“Rising female unemployment will hit many families and communities particularly badly. Women tend to spend their money locally and are more likely to spend/share their income with other family members.

“The combination of public spending cuts, welfare reform strategies divorced from labour market reality and economic development policies bereft of action to boost female participation in male dominated key sectors will significantly limit the ability of women to find decent work in Scotland for the foreseeable future”.

ENDS Stephen Boyd 0141 337 8100 or Dave Moxham 0141 337 8100

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