Jobs for the girls reach all-time high

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One of the most striking of yesterday's statistics revealed that the number of women at work reached an all-time high in the latest quarter, while the number of men with jobs continued to decline, writes Diane Coyle.

There are 11.6 million women in employment, according to the latest Labour Force Survey, 5.2 million of them part-time. Females now make up 41 per cent of the entire workforce, and the proportion has been rising steadily.

Even more dramatic is the fact that as the proportion of all women who work has been climbing, reaching 54.2 per cent, male participation has been on a downward trend, declining to 72.2 per cent in the latest quarter. Within a few years more women than men are likely to be in jobs.

This is not just the result of employment legislation encouraging the creation of part-time jobs in the UK. More and more women are going out to work in all the industrialised economies, according to OECD figures. One reason is the increasing dependence of these economies on service industries. The share of services, traditional employers of women, is increasing, whereas traditional male-dominated manufacturing industries are shrinking relative to the size of the economy.

The catch-up also applies to educational qualifications, typical job tenure and pay.