UN agency: Recession hurts male workers most

The world's economic crisis has cost more men their jobs than women in Western countries, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said on Thursday.

The male jobless rate in developed economies rose 1.1 percentage points to 6.6 percent in 2008, the year when credit, financial, and economic woes began to sink global markets, the U.N. agency said in a report. Female unemployment rose 0.8 percentage points to 6.8 percent.

"There was a reduction in the gender gap in the unemployment rate in 2008 but only because the situation of men in the labour market worsened more than the situation of women," the ILO said in its Global Employment Trends for Women study.

Men make up two-thirds or more of rich-country workers in mining, manufacturing, energy, construction and transportation, which have been hit hard by the continuing downturn.

"The impact of the crisis is likely to be more severe for males in countries in which these sectors were among the first to be affected," the ILO said.

Women, on the other hand, constitute two-thirds or more of public-sector workers in education, health and social services, which the ILO said "are likely to be less affected by the economic crisis, at least in the short run".

Developed countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and France saw their unemployment rates tick higher in late 2008, when the crisis took hold.

In the United States, where aggressive mortgage lending triggered a credit crisis that spread worldwide, the ILO said that male unemployment rose 1.7 percentage points from July to December, far exceeding the 1.1 increase for women workers.

"The relative employment losses for men were larger than for women in most sectors of the economy," the report found.

"It is clear that male employment suffered more, both in absolute and in relative terms. Nationally, male employment declined by 2.3 million, and female employment by 0.6 million."

Similar patterns were seen in France, where female jobless rates rose 0.1 percentage points in the second half of 2008, while male unemployment increased by 0.7 percentage points.

Companies around the world have shed hundreds of thousands of jobs in response to the economic storm that has suppressed consumer demand, trade and output.

The ILO said that a prolonged, broad-based downturn would make employment more scarce around the world and have a sharp impact on women workers in some regions, such as Latin America and the Caribbean.

But for now, it said that men reliant on "vulnerable employment" such as part-time and informal work would likely bear the brunt of a slowdown.

"Vulnerable employment is expected to rise in 2009 for both men and women, with the impact relatively more severe for men in all scenarios at the global level," it said.

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