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Women and younger workers affected disproportionately by jobs downturn

David Woods , 23 Feb 2012

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There was an 11.8% decrease in the use of temporary labour in the last quarter of 2011 in the public sector, when compared to the same time in 2010 and this has had a “disproportionate effect” on female workers and those under 34, according to findings published today by consultancy Comensura.

The Comensura Government Index (GI) today shows over the past two years, there has been a 20% decrease in temporary labour.

The quarterly index reflects temporary labour usage across 74 local authorities and other public bodies.

The proportion of male and female workers has also changed over the past two years, from an even distribution at the beginning of 2010 to 55.5% male and 44.5% female at the end of 2011.

Reflecting a disproportionate drop, the number of women employed in temporary positions in the public sector has decreased by a dramatic 28.3%. This is largely due to reductions in the number of social care, catering and hospitality, administrative and customer service roles.

Young people suffered the effects of reduced spending by local authorities. In the final quarter of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010, the number of 16-24 year-olds employed on a temporary basis decreased by 13.8% and the 25-34 age range decreased by 19.8%.

This result is primarily due to extensive decreases in temporary labour in office/administrative roles and social care roles, which declined by 17.8% and 17.5% respectively.

The Comensura GI shows a 19.2% decrease in temporary resource hires to cover vacant posts, a 7.1% drop in hires to cover short-term demand and a decrease of 9.0% to cover leave (mostly relating to sickness). This decrease may be attributable to widespread recruitment freezes and budget cuts across local authorities and other public bodies.

Jamie Horton, MD, Comensura said: "The decrease in temporary employment for women and young people is reflected across the UK workforce currently. While this is concerning for women and young people, the overall results show that the public sector has made a real and concerted effort to reduce the amount spent on temporary labour.

"Looking forward, the decrease in usage of temporary labour is expected to continue as forecast labour demand in the public sector remains weak due to ongoing economic uncertainty. Local authorities and other public bodies are increasingly gaining greater control of expenditure on temporary labour by implementing control methods to manage their demand for temporary labour. There is also better planning of workforce needs to ensure resources are spent in the right areas."

The Comensura GI shows the usage of temporary labour across 74 of Comensura's clients during 2010 and 2011. The Comensura GI will be distributed on a quarterly basis and uses a variety of metrics to measure the usage of temporary labour including Full Time Equivalent (FTE), the reasons for hire, job class, age and gender.

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