No escape for young women in unemployment figures

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Once again the cry goes up that unemployment is down and youth unemployment too, but rather than looking at how much the jobless totals have fallen we need to look instead at how many people have entered employment.

In the case of youth unemployment the difference is dramatic: youth unemployment has fallen by 30,000 from 14.9% to 14.2% yet only 2,000 more 18-24 year olds have jobs. And according to today’s figures, none of them are women.

Likewise, we know that among those aged 16-64 (the so called “working age”) employment rose by 94,000 while unemployment fell by 110,000. The reality is that thousands of people, rather than entering employment, have become economically inactive, and only some of them by choosing to study rather than look for work.

There is a growing acceptance that even among jobs that are becoming available too many are part-time and low-paid, hitting women far harder than men. More than three quarters of the UK’s 6.8 million part-time workers are women.

In its response to today’s unemployment figures, the CBI, representing employers, the CBI accepted that too many people are still finding times tough and that “more remains to be done to ensure growth works for everyone”.

Yesterday the Resolution Foundation published a report, Escape PlanCarole2, highlighting how only one in four low earners has managed to escape low pay in the past decade. It pointed to the number of years spent working part-time and to being a single parent as major barriers to pay progress. For single parent read single mother, in the vast majority of cases.

If we don’t learn the lessons of the past decade we risk repeating this situation for the next generation.