Women hit harder by COVID-19 job losses

4 May 2020

Women are feeling the economic effects of COVID-19 worse than men due to a slowdown in full-time employment and rising female unemployment.

According to the Financy Women’s Index, the measure of women’s financial progress rose by just 0.4 percentage points in the March quarter. This was the lowest first quarter result for five years.

Female full-time job figures rose by just 0.1% in the March quarter to 3.35 million compared to a 0.9% rise for males.

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The female unemployment rate also rose by five percentage points to 5.2% in March from February while the male unemployment rate remained steady at 5.3%.

Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, founder of the Financy Women’s Index, said: “If the initial impact of COVID-19 continues to hit female employment harder than male in an economic sense, it could exacerbate gender gaps in wages, superannuation and in unpaid work”.

COVID-19 job statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Tax Office showed in 14 of the 19 sectors of the economy, women took the biggest percentage hit on job losses.

This was because sectors such as accommodation and food services, arts and recreation and retail, which had all been hard hit, tended to have a higher representation of female employees.

AMP chief economist and head of investment strategy, Shane Oliver, said: “This is all very different to past economic downturns which have tended to disproportionately impact males – particularly older men – harder because the economic hit was primarily to cyclical sectors like construction and manufacturing with the services sector holding up much better”.

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