Past recessions have most heavily impacted predominantly male industries but ABS figures to date have shown that the COVID-19 pandemic initially impacted most heavily on industries such as retail, accommodation and food services – areas in which students, youth and women were overrepresented. The data shows that women also left the workforce in greater numbers than their male counterparts and had experienced greater reductions in the hours they worked.
Indications are that, as restrictions ease, these jobs have begun to recover and there has been a shift in the groups hardest hit by job losses, workforce participation, reduced hours and pay.
The latest data suggests that as the recession kicks in and structural adjustment occurs, job losses are filtering through in majority-male workforces.
Analysis shows when Jobkeeper and Jobseeker payments are withdrawn, just under half a million jobs will be lost and 60% of those by men. McKinsey research notes that some of the most significantly-impacted industries in the coming six months will be construction where 88% of the workforce is male, manufacturing (73% male-dominated) and professional services (57% male-dominated in the legal and consulting professions).
Labour market statistics show that the male unemployment rate now sits at 7.1% compared to 6.7% for females. More men are leaving the labour market than females impacting the balance of labour force participation. The data confirm that job losses are mainly in lower paid, less educated cohorts – the participation rate of men of working age who did not complete a post-school qualification fell from 83.4% in 1994 to 73.6% in 2019. In 1994, of those employed in this group, 94% were in full time work, but by 2019, only 73% were working full-time.
Professionals Australia will continue to review the shifts in impact of the global pandemic through a gender lens and ensure that we advocate for policy measures that take account of the differential effects of the downturn on different groups of our members as the pandemic unfolds.