By Max Clarke

As their annual women's conference begins in Eastbourne today, the TUC (Trades Union Congress) is warning that the government faces a potential crisis in female unemployment - and that its current economic strategy risks making the situation much worse.

While more men lost their jobs in the recent recession than women and more men than women remain out of work, over the last year male employment has begun to recover, with a 238,000 increase in employment levels and a 0.4 point increase in the rate, while female employment has fallen by 19,000 over the same period.

During the past 12 months overall male unemployment has fallen by 31,000, while female unemployment has risen by 71,000.

TUC analysis of official Labour Force Survey figures from July-September 2010 shows that in some parts of the country as many as one in five young women aged between 16-24 are currently unemployed.

The worst hit areas are Merseyside, where unemployment among young women has risen by 11 per cent since the recession started, the West Midlands- 10 per cent increase- and Scotland and Yorkshire- which have both seen 9 per cent increases.

This rise in female unemployment comes at a time when the number of jobs in sectors where may women work is still far lower than was the case at the start of the recession.

With redundancies in the public sector - where more than a third of women in work are employed - set to increase as a result of government spending cuts, and slow economic growth likely to mean that vacancy levels remain low across 'female' sectors like retail and admin, the TUC believes women are in for a tough few years.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'While the government focuses all its energy on cuts, our unemployment crisis continues to grow.

'The UK desperately needs an economic strategy that prioritises growth and jobs to bring revenues in and the deficit down. The current plan of deep, rapid cuts is causing job losses to mount and sending our economy in the wrong direction.

'Women worried about losing their jobs or vital public services in the cuts should join at least 100,000 people coming from all parts of the country - including public sector workers, faith groups, community organisations, volunteers, campaigners and families - on the TUC's March for the Alternative on Saturday 26 March in London.'