Women Wanting to Work Waiting for Work 

Marlyn Glen

25 February 2013

Five official figures show why unemployment amongst women remains very much a major concern.

There were 3,000 women unemployed in Dundee in the latest year, representing an unemployment rate of 8.8 per cent .

There are 4,600 “economically inactive women” in Dundee who would like to work,  up 1,000 from the previous yearly period.

There are a total of just 689 registered job vacancies in the city.

The number of women in the age group 16-64 who  are employees ( as distinct from being self-employed) has fallen by 2,400 in the past year.

The percentage of women in employment as employees in Dundee is now 60 per cent, the lowest percentage in the period since since 2004.

The rise in family incomes and living standards in the earlier years of the last decade was to a large degree driven by more women in work.

But in this decade the present resilience of the level of unemployment amongst women and the fall in the employment rate for women have uneasy implications for family household budgets, financial security,  and for closing the gender gap.  
When the current economic downturn began it was predominantly men who  bore the brunt  of job losses in sectors such as construction and manufacturing  .

When the erosion shrank the public sector, predominantly staffed by women, many thousands of them saw their jobs go.

There are a  series of formidable cuts yet to be applied to the public sector - their effects have still to be felt , and they will affect women disproportionately.

The Fawcett Society state that more  than 70% of the £18bn social security and benefits cuts fall on women.

Underemployment – looking for extra hours of work in the present job or in another job to make ends meet – amongst women is also on the rise .

In the three years between 2008-2011 the number of women in Scotland working part-time who were underemployed rose from 56,000 to 81,000.

The number of women working full-time who were underemployed rose from 23,00 to over 25,000 in the same period.

Pitted against their hopes is a present day trend for a reduction in cuts in hours and working conditions and part-time work.

Women face not just a dearth of quality employment , but their opportunities diminished by lack of flexible working patterns and towering childcare costs.

As a result, many reluctantly accept lower skilled and lower paid jobs to harmonise with their caring duties.

However, elsewhere in Europe a different picture emerges.

In the OECD, Scandinavian countries come out top for female employment while the UK trails behind in 15th. position. 

High levels of female employment in these countries has been accomplished by large-scale government investment in childcare provision.

The Resolution Foundation think-tank has estimated that bringing UK women’s employment rates up to Scandinavian levels would mean another 1 million working women in Britain, and they in turn, would be generating large amounts of revenue for the government through taxation and national insurance.

If other countries can adopt this approach, why not here?

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