Women drive UK jobs boom
Women accounted for 246,000 of the 317,000 increase in total UK employment over the last year, says the Office for National Statistics. This is partly due to changes in the state pension age, which mean fewer women are retiring age 60 to 65.
Women accounted for more than 80% of the 94,000 jobs created between June and August. The sharp increase may reflect the strength of the labor market. Unemployment is at its lowest for four decades and some firms are struggling to recruit staff. However it may also be due to the pressure on family finances as wage growth continues to lag well behind the rate of inflation.
The proportion of women in employment is close to a record high at 70.7%. Correspondingly there was a drop in women not in work nor looking for a job.
However, the data does indicate that traditional gender roles do still exist. Of the 2.07 million people declaring themselves inactive because they were looking after a family or a home, 1.85 million were women.
“Gender gaps in labor force participation (and education) have also been found to be negatively associated with economic growth,” writes Anne E. Winkler. “Lack of progress in employment represents lost economic opportunity, because this valuable resource (i.e. women’s potential as labor force participants) is not being put to its best possible use. Put differently, women’s education and employment benefit society as a whole.”
Winkler also notes, “It is also the case that women continue to bear greater responsibility for the care of the home and family. Child care subsidies are one way to reduce this unequal burden, and in turn, facilitate women’s labor force participation and career advancement.”
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