By Claire West

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) comments as follows on official labour market statistics published earlier today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS):

“The latest headline employment, unemployment and earnings growth figures show continued improvement in labour market conditions. However, 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.

“The quarterly rise in employment is due mainly to more men entering self-employment, but while this contributed to a fall of 40,000 in the number of unemployed men, the number of unemployed women increased by 31,000. 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. Whatever the overall rate of job creation in the economy in the coming months, the negative impact on employment of fiscal austerity is likely to continue to hit women much harder than men.

“Despite more people in work and fewer unemployed it is also apparent that underemployment remains a significant feature of the UK labour market at present, with full-time employment still in freefall and the number of people working fewer hours than they want to reaching yet another record level.”