January Labour Market Update

The latest analysis on the labour market in UK cities looks at women in the labour market.

Briefing published on 19 January 2012 by Paul Swinney

Unemployment increased again in the three months to November compared to the three months to September. The further 0.1 percentage point increase means that the UK’s unemployment rate now stands at 8.4 percent.

The impact of the recession on women

The impact of the increase in unemployment on men and women has varied since the onset of the downturn in February 2008:

Ratio of male to female unemployed

The ratio increased sharply through to July 2009 as men were hit harder by the early part of the recession.   This reflects the nature of the downturn – manufacturing and construction, which traditionally are male dominated industries, lead the contraction of the overall economy.This trend reversed almost as sharply from the mid 2009 to the end of 2010, partly reflecting the stronger recovery of the manufacturing and construction sectors (although they both remain well below their pre-recessionary peak in output terms).   As a result the ratio of male to female unemployed people is now at a similar level as it was in February 2008.

The gender ratio across cities

The trends in the gender ratio across cities when looking at the claimant count looks a little different to the national picture shown above.  The graph below shows the trend in the gender ratio for Dundee, which had 2.7 male Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants to every female claimant in December 2011, and London, which had the lowest ratio.   It also shows that the ratio of male to female claimants has declined in both of these cities since the onset of the recession and is now much lower than it was in February 2008.

There is also a spatial pattern to the gender ratio.   The bottom five cities for this measure are all in the South East – there tends to be a more even split between male and female claimants in these cities.  Hastings is the only city in the South East in the top five cities on this measure.   And although not shown in this table, Hastings and Norwich are the only southern cities in the top 20

Gender ratio across UK cities, December 2011