Eurofound: Changes during crisis have benefitted women

Nurses at work. United Kingdom, 2007. [Jo Guldi/Flickr]

The economic crisis has boosted growth in high-wage jobs. This has mainly benefited women, according to a study by Eurofound.  

While high-wage jobs have been in demand, middle-wage jobs have been destroyed in huge numbers. The sectors which were most severely shaken by the crisis, manufacturing and construction, have a concentration of jobs in the mid-paying range. 

These developments are benefiting women workers and narrowing the gender gap in employment, according to Eurofound’s European Jobs Monitor 2014. From mid-2011 to mid-2013, women’s employment increased modestly by 60,000, while men’s employment fell by nearly 1.4 million.

Eurofound also stated that while the manufacturing and construction sectors are heavily male-dominated, the sectors with most growth in employment, health and education, are primarily dominated by women, and tend to have jobs with higher hourly pay rates.

Only among the lowest-paying jobs has employment growth for men outpaced that of women. One reason could be that the men who were let go from manufacturing and construction jobs took up lower-paid service jobs in the food and beverage, construction and retail sectors.

Meanwhile, employment levels for women in the lowest-paid jobs fell due to job losses among cleaners and helpers working for private household employers.

Changes in part-time jobs

Though part-time jobs have previously been dominated by women, the crisis has seen a gender shift with male workers increasingly taking up these jobs. Over 60% of net new male part-time jobs in the lowest wage category were in typically female-dominated occupations, such as personal care workers, sales workers, cleaners and helpers. 

For women, new part-time employment tends to be in professional and managerial occupations, notably business and administration professionals, health professionals and commercial or administrative managers. These jobs mainly represent existing full-time jobs being converted to part-time ones, as well as newly created part-time jobs. 

The European labour market is confronted with a paradox: while confronted with a record unemployment in its member states, millions of jobs remain unfilled in many sectors key economic development.

Despite all efforts to bring down unemployment and match skills in the domestic labour force, Europe-based international companies and SMEs face huge problems to hire the people they need.

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