Unemployment up as stay-at-home mothers head back to the job centre

 

An influx of women back into the workforce has driven an increase in the unemployment rate and ratcheted up the pressure on George Osborne to change his economic strategy and adopt a “Plan B”.

Click image above to enlarge graphic

The major driving force behind the rise in the jobless rate was an increase in women who had previously been looking after the family or home but are now actively seeking work, making them officially unemployed.

The number of people without jobs between December and February rose 70,000 to 2.56 million on the previous three months, taking the overall unemployment rate up to 7.9 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The number of women who look after the family or home fell to 2.06 million in the latest three-month period, the lowest estimate on record.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think-tank attributed this trend to the gradual increase in the state pension age for women, which has risen from 60 to 61 years and six months.

A greater number of older women are remaining in the workforce, or returning to seek paid work, out of economic necessity, the IFS says.

Younger women are also entering the available work force in greater numbers.

The number of women aged 25 to 34 who are “economically active” increased by 101,000 on a year earlier. Richard Clegg, an employment statistician at the ONS, suggested that this trend might be attributable to the Government’s welfare reforms, which have increased the incentive for women with children in that age group to seek paid employment.

Ministers have cited the fact that job numbers have been rising and unemployment numbers falling since the autumn of 2011 as evidence that, despite the threat of a triple-dip recession, their economic plans have been bearing fruit.

But the latest figures showing a reversal of those trends last night intensified the pressure on the Chancellor to follow the advice of the International Monetary Fund and to slow the pace of his spending cuts.

The TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, called on the Chancellor to “change course and prioritise jobs, growth and living standards”.

David Kern, chief economist of the British Chambers of Commerce, an organisation that has backed the Chancellor’s austerity policies, said Mr Osborne should ramp up employment-creating state infrastructure spending. Tony Dolphin, of  the IPPR think-tank, insisted that “more needs to be done to help  the most vulnerable groups, including the young and long-term unemployed”.

Youth unemployment is now on a rising trend again, having dipped below the 1 million mark a year ago. Joblessness among 16 to 24 year olds rose to 979,000 in the latest period, a 20,000 increase on the previous three months.

The figures also pointed to an intensifying squeeze on pay. Excluding bonuses, average pay increased by just 1 per cent on a year earlier, the lowest growth rate in a decade. With the annual inflation rate now standing at 2.8 per cent, this shows that most households are still experiencing a real terms pay cut.

John Philpott, of the Jobs Economist consultancy, said the willingness of workers to accept low pay rises since the 2008 financial crisis was one of the reasons employment has held up well, despite the weakness of the overall economy, as employers have been able to increase staffing levels without eating into profits.

But he said that the latest figures suggested that the employment gains from this supply of cheap labour were now petering out. “This doesn’t necessarily mean we are facing a further ongoing surge in joblessness” he said “but it does demonstrate that simply relying on people to price themselves into work cannot guarantee continued employment growth in an economy still experiencing a serious lack of demand”.

The employment minister, Mark Hoban, pointed to a 7,000 fall in the number of people claiming the dole as an encouraging sign. “We will continue to give jobseekers all the help and support they need to realise their aspirations,” he said.

Back to work: Women who want employment

Sophie Knighton, 25, from Brighton had her son Finnin March 2010. She’s worked  sporadically since.

“After I had Finn, I worked in a café until it went bankrupt in April 2011. This coincided with me moving out of my parents’ house. In October, I started a part-time drama course and began teaching drama for an hour a week. I claim housing benefit, income support, child benefit and child tax credits. I’ve lost around £30 a week housing benefit, and just had to pay £78 after having my council tax benefit removed. I don’t want to have to work over the summer, as I’d prefer to spend the time with Finn, but I’m going to have to look for a job. I need the money".

Elizabeth Spring, 59, from London, is starting a job as a charity manager in June. She  had hoped to retire early and spend a year volunteering. However, at 57, she learned she couldn’t retire until she was 66.

“I’ve been working all my adult life and, like most women, I’ve brought up a child too. I went back to work when my son was six months old. The whole problem with women is that we’re trying to encompass so many roles. Women are somehow expected to work as mothers as well as doing a paid job.”

Regional unemployment between December and February (tabulate under region, total unemployed, change on quarter and unemployment rate)

North East, 131,000, plus 12,000, 10.1%

North West, 288,000, minus 7,000, 8.3%

Yorkshire and The Humber, 253,000, plus 11,000, 9.2%

East Midlands, 175,000, minus 15,000, 7.7%

West Midlands, 252,000, plus 6,000, 9.1%

East of England, 217,000, plus 9,000, 6.9%

London, 384,000, plus 30,000, 8.9%

South East, 306,000, plus 15,000, 6.8%

South West, 167,000, plus 20,000, 6.2%

Wales, 120,000, minus 3,000, 8.2%

Scotland, 197,000, minus 11,000, 7.3%

Northern Ireland, 72,000, plus 3,000, 8.4%

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmCritic Kaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Life and Style
Google's doodle celebrating Halloween 2014
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Finance Assistant - Part time - 9 month FTC

£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...

Marketing Manager

£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...

Market Risk Manager - Investment Banking - Mandarin Speaker

£45,000 - £65,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is a well-known APAC Corporate and...

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes