According to a leading think tank, female unemployment in Britain is expected to rise due to public sector commercial property job cuts and high childcare expenditures.
The warning comes ahead of the announcement of the latest round of UK jobs data.
The Institute for Public Policy Research suggests that unemployment among women is already at its highest position for more than two decades, at 1.09 million, and with jobs fading from the public sector and commercial property retail industry, the figure is likely to increase.
The IPPR says the government is likely to earn more tax revenue (£20,050 over four years) minus the cost of childcare, by allowing a woman employee to return to full-time employment after one year of maternity leave.
According to think tank, high child care costs often prevent women from returning back to the workforce. The IPPR wants to bring the number of unemployed women down with universal childcare, something it argues would pay for itself.
Nick Pearce, IPPR director said: “It is far better for our economy to have people in work and paying taxes than at home claiming benefits. Women will return to work if we can restart growth and give families access to free and high-quality childcare. At a time of severe fiscal constraint, it’s vital for the UK to focus resources where they will make the most difference-in helping families with the cost of living and strengthening the public finances over the long term.”
At present, the employment rate of women with children in the UK is beneath most developed countries in the list of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development-ranking 19th.
Two thirds of commercial property public sector jobs are held by women; by the same token jobs in the retail industry are dominated by females.
With the possibility of another double-dip recession hitting soon, and spending on retail likely to be less, female unemployment is not likely to improve. Predictions from the Office for Budget Responsibility show that 710,000 jobs will be cut from the public sector by 2017.
According to the IPPR, women in the North of England have been hardest hit in the economic decline. Over the past year, female unemployment has risen by 23% in the North East and 19% in Yorkshire.
Even though IPPR urges the government to increase the spend on childcare, a separate report released last week highlights that women job-seekers have performed better than men in 2011.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) says more men were rehired through the initial post-recession jobs recovery in 2010, however it has been hard-hitting for both sexes in the 2011 jobs market.
CIPD’s analysis of official statistics suggests that the number of unemployed women has fallen slightly, compared to that of men in 2011 and men have been hit the hardest by the significant loss of commercial property part-time jobs in 2011.
Chief economic advisor at the CIPD, John Philpott commented: “What we do know is that the relative position of women has not so far worsened as much as commonly perceived or was widely anticipated given the high concentration of women workers in the public sector and in part-time jobs more generally. This might indicate that the impact of economic austerity will prove to be more gender balanced that at first thought, although it also underlines how tough things are becoming for both sexes in our increasingly depressed jobs market.”
There are positive signs for those 2.6 million people looking for jobs in the UK with manual skills. A report from Working Links, suggests that an employment organisation that helps people to find jobs and retrain-vacancies in manual trades such as construction and welding are up significantly but are down in commercial property sales jobs, customer services and administrative roles.
Jobs in other hands-on professions like transport driving and hairdressing have also risen on a year ago. However job vacancies vary from one region to another. London, Scotland and Wales have seen the greatest increase in vacant positions, while the North West, North East and East Midlands have seen the highest decline in available positions.