Labour market decline starting to affect woman

11/08/2003 10:00

The labour market situation has been deteriorating in the last two years. Unemployment has now risen to over 400 thousand and employment is declining. Initially only men were affected by these developments, but now women are also feeling the consequences.

Labour force, year-on-year changes

Employment growth slowing down

With an average economic growth of 3.5 percent, employment increased substantially in the period 1994-2000. Economic growth came to a standstill at the beginning of 2001, and by the end of that year the tide on the labour market had turned. The rate of increase in the number of jobs fell from that moment and at the beginning of this years it turned into a slight decrease.

Since the beginning of the nineties the labour force (supply on the labour market) has been growing by up to 150 thousand people annually. Women account for two-thirds of this increase. To absorb the increase in the labour force, employment (the demand on the labour market) must increase proportionally. Employment grew faster than the labour force in the years before 2001, pushing down unemployment. Since the end of 2001, however, this is no longer the case. The increase in the labour force has now also slowed down, as in times of rising unemployment many people withdraw from the labour market.

Female unemployment also rising

Unemployment among men has been increasing since the end of 2001. For women, it only started to rise from the beginning of this year. The growth in the number of jobs kept up with the increase of women on the labour market for longer than it did for men. The reason for this was the creation of a substantial number of jobs in the government and care sectors, which benefited women more than men. There were over 100 thousand more jobs in these sectors in 2002, and women had 75 thousand more jobs in these sectors than in 2001. In contrast: in the same year 31 thousand jobs were lost in the manufacturing industry, affecting 22 thousand men.

Unemployment and employment (index 2000-I = 100)

The stagnation of employment and the increase in unemployment among women has been evident since the beginning of 2003. Now jobs are not only being cut in male sectors such as the manufacturing industry, but also in the more mixed sectors. In the first quarter of this year, for instance, 10 thousand fewer women were employed in financial and business services than twelve months previously. The number of unemployed women is now growing by 8 thousand a month, the number of unemployed men by 6 thousand.

Remko Hijman