By Claire West

Men are more likely than women to have a spell of unemployment, but can expect to remain unemployed for a shorter period of time, according to an article published today by the Office for National Statistics.

On average, men are 3.2 percentage points more likely than women either to be unemployed when
they join the Labour Force Survey (LFS) sample, or to become so at some point while they are in the sample.

Other groups who have an above-average chance of a spell of unemployment include:

• those who work in elementary occupations — such as labourers, waiters and cleaners — who are 7.8 percentage points more likely to have a spell of unemployment than those in professional occupations;

• ethnic minorities, who are 4.6 percentage points more likely to have a spell ofunemployment than non-minority people;

• 18 to 24-year-olds, who are 4.5 percentage points more likely to have a spell of unemployment than 35 to 49-years-olds;

• local authority or housing association tenants, who are 3.4 percentage points more likely to
have a spell of unemployment than those who rent privately; and

• those women who have dependent children, who are 2.2 percentage points more likely to
have a spell of unemployment than women with no dependent children.

Modelling by ONS worked out the expected length of a spell of unemployment for a typical control group — 35 to 49-year-old women, not in an ethnic minority, unmarried and without dependent children, without GCSEs or equivalent, who rent privately in the West Midlands metropolitan county
and work in an elementary occupation — which comes out at 3.7 months. Looking at factors that tend to shorten the period of unemployment, men who otherwise matched the characteristics of this control group could expect a spell of unemployment to be 1.6 months shorter. Being aged 18
to 24 reduced the expected length of unemployment by 1.3 months but being 50 to 59 increased it by 2.1 months.

The article also looks at the chance of leaving unemployment to go into a job. The longer people are unemployed, the less likely it is that they will have a job by the time they leave the LFS sample — those who have been unemployed for between seven and 12 months are 17.7 percentage points less likely to be re-employed than those who have only been unemployed for six months or less.

A separate article looks at the number of hours worked in the economy, concluding that the number of hours people work is strongly influenced by the hours worked by their partners. In October-December 2009, in 47.7 per cent of cases where the head of the household worked zero
hours a week, their partners also worked zero hours. Men tended to work longer hours when there were dependent children in the household — full-time men with children worked 39.6 hours a week on average in July 2009-June 2010, compared with 38.8 per cent for those without.

By contrast,women with children worked shorter hours than those without — for full-timers 31.4 hours a week
compared with 35.2 hours for those without dependent children.

It also looks at the relationship between hours worked and economic growth, and finds a strong correlation between GDP growth and hours worked. Total weekly hours worked reached a peak in quarter 1 of 2008, at 949.2 million, before falling consistently through the recession to 908.6 million
hours in quarter 4 2009, the lowest number of total hours worked in the UK economy since 2003.