ONS figures show more than 100,000 jobs cut in NHS (pictured) and schools in the last year, hitting women workers hardest


The latest unemployment statistics reinforce the shocking impact of Coalition austerity policies on women across the UK.

The number of female workers who have lost their jobs in the last three months has risen by 17%, compared to 1% among men.

According to the Office of National Statistics, overall unemployment from November 2011 to January 2012 stood at 2.67m – up 28,000 on the previous three months.

The ONS says total public sector employment fell by 270,000 from the end of 2010 to the end of 2011, offset by a 226,000 rise in private sector employment.

Total public sector employment fell by 4.3% over the same period with local government down most at 7.1%. Central government was down 1.2%.

UNISON says the figures show that every day since the Tory-led coalition came to power, 625 public sector jobs have been lost. That equates to one public sector job being lost every 2 minutes and 18 seconds.

The South West of the UK had the largest fall in public sector employment, down 36,000 and Northern Ireland the least, down 5,000.

In last year, 31,000 jobs have been cut in the NHS and a further 71,000 in public sector education.

Analysts believe this goes a long way to explain the growing gender disparity in the effects of government austerity cuts, because the majority of those jobs will have been held by female workers.

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “It’s shameful to see that not only are women bearing the brunt of the recession, they are unemployed in record numbers, and are hardest hit by Tory cuts to public services and jobs.

“Women are the primary users and make up the majority of the workforce in the public sector, and the evidence clearly shows that Coalition policies are increasing women’s economic inequality and resulting in a loss of the hard won gains that have been made for women’s equality.”

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The rise in employment is encouraging, but the new jobs being created are mainly part-time. These jobs are not paying enough to replace the full-time earnings that people need.

“The sharp fall in pay increases is also worrying as it will prolong the painful squeeze on family incomes throughout the year.”

The number of people working in the public sector fell by 37,000 over the quarter to reach 5.94 million. That is the lowest figure since June 2003.

Elsewhere, there is further stark evidence of the impact of the economic crisis on workers, with 17,000 jobs lost in manufacturing and construction in the North East of England alone.

Average pay as continued to fall (down 0.3% in the 3 months), according to the ONS, while youth unemployment continues to rise: 23.1% of 16 – 24 year olds are ‘economically inactive’.

The government says youth unemployment is ‘stabilsing’. It blames the 16,000 increase on students looking for part time work.

However, official figures show 612,000 people who are in temporary jobs want permanent work. A further 1.38m part time workers want full-time jobs.

That means 4.6 million people across the UK are looking for more work.

Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey said: “What these appalling unemployment figures show is that next week’s Budget needs to be about jobs and growth.
“Unemployment is desperate for all those without work. This government is creating both a lost generation of young people and a forgotten generation of older workers, who may never work again.
“There is so much potential at both ends of the age spectrum that is being wasted by the misguided austerity addiction of Chancellor, George Osborne.”

Said Brendan Barber: “We cannot afford to see fresh records broken in youth joblessness with such depressing frequency.

“Over a quarter of a million public sector jobs were lost in the last year and the private sector recovery we were promised is not materialising.

“Tackling the jobs crisis should be at the centre of the Chancellor’s Budget next week. Bold new measures such as a youth jobs guarantee and tax breaks for investment are needed to get our economy growing again.”

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