Number of unemployed women soars

The number of unemployed women in the UK increased by 31,000 in the three months to September to reach 1.02 million – the highest figure since 1988.

The grim findings, published today by the Office for National Statistics, emerged as the overall number of unemployed people in the UK fell by 9,000 during the same three months, to 2.45 million. The overall unemployment rate was also unchanged at 7.7%

But while the number of men out of work fell by 40,000 on the previous quarter to 1.43 million, the number of unemployed women shot up during the same period, the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin – November 2010 showed.

Dr John Philpott, chief economic adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said that public sector recruitment freezes and redundancies were having an “adverse impact on job prospects for women”.

He said: “Women are likely to have been adversely affected by fewer vacancies in public administration, education, health and social work,” he said. “The public sector, which has a relatively high concentration of female workers, is also the only sector to record an increase in redundancies in the latest quarter.”

He added that whatever the overall rate of job creation in the coming months, the “negative impact on employment of fiscal austerity is likely to continue to hit women much harder than men”.

Other findings showed that the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance fell by 3,700 between September and October 2010 to reach 1.47 million, although the number claiming for up to six months increased by 10,400 to reach 943,900.

Ian Brinkley, associate director of The Work Foundation, said that more jobs needed to be created before a sustained uplift takes place: “The growth in jobs is making almost no impression on the numbers of unemployed people because many people are returning to the labour market looking for work.

“We need to see full-time work expand much more strongly before we can be confident that the jobs recovery is solidly grounded. And even with more full time jobs, reducing unemployment is likely to be a slow process.”

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