Recovery on cards but male employment heading for all-time low

An industry body has today warned that despite the upturn in the economy, unemployment – particularly among men – will become much worse.

With the latest official UK unemployment figures due for release, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) warns that, with a ‘jobs light’ recovery on the cards, the proportion of men in work is set to fall to a record low.

 The CIPD’s analysis of official statistics, ‘Men not at work’, finds that:

  • The male unemployment rate currently stands at 9 per cent (higher than the female unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent).
  • The number of men unemployed has increased by almost 50 per cent during the recession, the number of women unemployed by 33.4 per cent, with unemployment rates rising by 3.0 percentage points and 1.6 percentage points respectively.
  • The deterioration in the labour market position of men has been felt particularly acutely by young men and black men. At present 1 in 5 18-24 year old men are unemployed and almost 1 in 5 black men are unemployed, more than double the unemployment rate for white British men. The rise in unemployment for black men during the recession has been greater than for white British men and men from other ethnic minority groups.

 By summer 2009 the employment rate of men of working age had fallen to 75.8 per cent. Only two years in the post-World War II era (1993 and 1994) have registered a lower proportion of men in work. The low point was 75.0 per cent in the second quarter of 1993 just as the economy began to emerge from recession (the previous low point, following the 1980s recession. was 77.4 per cent in the second quarter of 1983).

 The male unemployment rate is forecast to rise above 10 per cent by the start of 2010 before peaking at around 11 per cent (1.9 million). Although high, the peak in the male unemployment rate should be less than the 12.4 per cent and 12.8 per cent peaks following the 1980s and 1990s recessions respectively.

Chief Economist at the CIPD, John Philpott said: “A focus on the relatively hard impact of the recession on men should not detract from the absolute deterioration in the labour market situation facing both sexes. Indeed, it is likely that the relative position of women will itself deteriorate in the coming decade as real cuts in public expenditure have an adverse impact on public sector employment.  However, it is important to highlight the current plight of men in the labour market, not least because once the impact of recession and a ‘jobs-light’ recovery is fully felt the proportion of UK men in work will probably have fallen to a record low.”

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