Women bearing brunt of cuts, warns TUC

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date: 8 March 2011

embargo: 00.01hrs Wednesday 9 March 2011

As the annual TUC women's conference begins in Eastbourne today (Wednesday) the TUC is warning that the government faces a potential crisis in female unemployment - and that its current economic strategy risks making the situation much worse.

While more men lost their jobs in the recent recession than women and more men than women remain out of work, over the last year male employment has begun to recover (with a 238,000 increase in employment levels and a 0.4 point increase in the rate) while female employment has fallen (19,000 over the same period and a 0.5 point fall in the rate).

During the past 12 months overall male unemployment has fallen by 31,000 (with the rate falling by 0.3 percentage points), while female unemployment has risen by 71,000 (with the rate increasing by 0.5 percentage points).

Although they face a far higher risk of unemployment overall, the situation is similar for young people (aged 18-24). Unemployment amongst young men has dropped slightly by 0.4 percentage points, while there has been an increase of 1.6 points for young women.

TUC analysis of official Labour Force Survey figures from July-September 2010 shows that in some parts of the country as many as one in five young women (20 per cent) aged between 16-24 are currently unemployed.

The worst hit areas are Merseyside, where unemployment among young women has risen by 11 per cent since the recession started, the West Midlands (10 per cent increase) and Scotland and Yorkshire (which have both seen 9 per cent increases).

This rise in female unemployment comes at a time when the number of jobs in sectors where may women work is still far lower than was the case at the start of the recession.

Since the downturn there has been a fall of 34,000 in retail vacancies, a 14,000 fall in administrative and secretarial jobs, the number of education vacancies has fallen by 20,000 and the number of jobs in health and social work has fallen by 18,000.

With redundancies in the public sector - where more than a third of women in work are employed - set to increase as a result of government spending cuts, and slow economic growth likely to mean that vacancy levels remain low across 'female' sectors like retail and admin, the TUC believes women are in for a tough few years.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'While the government focuses all its energy on cuts, our unemployment crisis continues to grow.

'The UK desperately needs an economic strategy that prioritises growth and jobs to bring revenues in and the deficit down. The current plan of deep, rapid cuts is causing job losses to mount and sending our economy in the wrong direction.

'Women worried about losing their jobs or vital public services in the cuts should join at least 100,000 people coming from all parts of the country - including public sector workers, faith groups, community organisations, volunteers, campaigners and families - on the TUC's March for the Alternative on Saturday 26 March in London.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- The TUC's analysis of female unemployment is available at www.tuc.org.uk/extras/womenconference.pdf

- The 81st TUC women's conference takes place at the Floral Hall, Winter Garden, Eastbourne, from 2pm on Wednesday 9 March to 12.45pm on Friday 11 March. Speakers include TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP, President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Helen Kelly and TUC President Michael Leahy.

- The TUC March for the Alternative is on Saturday 26 March in London. For more information please visit: www.marchforthealternative.org.uk

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: egibson@tuc.org.uk

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