Jobless women total hits 22-year high

The number of unemployed women has reached a 22-year high of more than a million prompting warnings tonight of worse to come.

Today's Office for National Statistics figures also showed that workers in part-time jobs because they cannot find a full-time work have reached a record high.

There was a 31,000 increase in the number of women out of work in the three months to September.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Female unemployment has been rising for over a year and hit a 22-year high this autumn.

"With the Office for Budget Responsibility predicting half a million further job losses in the female-dominated public sector, women look likely to suffer rising joblessness for some time to come."

Dr John Philpott, chief economic adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: "There are signs that cuts in public spending are already having an adverse impact on job prospects for women, with the unemployment rate for women now at 7% - higher than at any point since the start of the jobs recession in 2008.

"Women are likely to have been adversely affected by fewer vacancies in public administration, education, health and social work.

"The public sector, which has a relatively high concentration of female workers, is also the only sector to record an increase in redundancies in the latest quarter."

The Government concentrated on other figures which showed that unemployment in the UK fell by 9,000 to 2.45 million in the latest quarter, while the numbers claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell by 3,700 in October to 1.47 million, the first monthly fall since July.

During Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron welcomed the fall in the unemployment rate as a "good sign" that the Government's "private sector led recovery" had taken hold.

"What we have to do is make sure there is a private sector-led recovery - that's why we've got low interest rates, we've got corporation tax coming down, we've got cuts in national insurance for new firms that are hiring people, we've got less regulation."

The number of full-time workers fell by 62,000 to reach 18.17 million, while part-time employment was almost eight million, up by 142,000 from the quarter to June.

Of this total, two million were men and almost six million were women.

Public sector employment, which is set to be hit by the Government's spending cuts, was down by 22,000 to 6.05 million, while employment in private firms increased by 308,000 to 23.11 million.

Job vacancies fell by 27,000 to 453,000 in the three months to October, with education showing the biggest drop.

Average earnings increased by 2% in the year to September, up by 0.3% from the previous month, leaving average pay, including bonuses, at £453 a week.

Employment minister Chris Grayling said: "Unemployment is down and employment is up, which is good news. The private sector is leading the way and creating jobs and opportunities for people across the country. Today's figures show that businesses are responding well and we will continue to help them expand and develop, as the economy grows."

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "These figures are better than expected. Overall, the new figures are positive, although we have not yet seen the negative impact on jobs that will result from the tough deficit-cutting measures due to be implemented in 2011. On this basis, we reiterate the BCC's forecast that UK unemployment is likely to record temporary increases over the next 18 months."

Dave Prentis, Unison's general secretary, said: "These figures do not disguise the dark storm clouds gathering over our economy. Part-time jobs are not a viable alternative for families struggling to pay their bills.

"Our research shows there are, on average, four unemployed people chasing every vacant job across the country. Some regions are harder hit. In Hackney there are 31 unemployed people for every advertised job. The Tories have done nothing more than cross their fingers and make a wish for a private sector-led recovery."

Unemployment in the regions between July and September was:

Region Totals Unemployed

North East: 116,000 / minus 4,000 / 9.0%

North West: 278,000 / plus 1,000 / 8.1%

Yorkshire/Humber: 236,000: minus 8,000 / 9.0%

East Midlands: 182,000 / plus 12,000 / 8.0%

West Midlands: 233,000 / plus 13,000 / 8.7%

East: 199,000 / minus 4,000 / 6.6%

London: 374,000 / minus 10,000 / 9.0%

South East: 278,000 / plus 11,000 / 6.2%

South West: 148,000 / minus 17,000 / 5.5%

Wales: 117,000 / minus 12,000 / 8.1%

Scotland: 229,000 / plus 6,000 / 8.5%

N Ireland: 58,000 / plus 3,000 / 7.0%