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Women’s labour market participation increasing

13 March 2008

Women’s labour market participation increasing

Women’s participation in the labour force continued to increase in 2007, so that the gap between male and female participation is the smallest since the Household Labour Force Survey began in 1986, Social Development and Employment Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

"The Department of Labour's second annual report ‘Female Labour Market Outcomes' shows that the female labour force pariticipation rate has increased from 59.2% in December 2002 to 61.9% in December 2007," Ms Dyson said.

"Although this is lower than the male participation rate of 75.6% for the year ended December 2007, the women’s workforce participation has increased more rapidly than men’s so that the gap was smaller in December 2007 than it has been at any other time since 1986.”

“Strong economic growth and increased flexibility in the labour market over the past five years have seen an increase in the number of women in paid work, fewer unemployed women and fewer women outside the labour force.”

Other results from the report include:

In the year to December 2007, there were 994,800 employed females compared to 1,161,000 employed males.

Overall employment growth in recent quarters has been driven by changes in female employment. Annual female employment growth for the year end December 2007 was 2.1% compared to 1.6% for males.

Employment growth for females has been slightly greater than employment growth for males over the past 5 years – increasing at 2.7% per year for women and 2.4% per year for men.

A relatively large proportion of women are working part-time, 34.5% compared to the OECD average of 26.4%

"Our government’s policies such as Working for Families tax credits, 20 hours free Early Childhood Education, 14 weeks Paid Parental Leave and the Choices for Living, Caring and Working programme combined with an historic low unemployment rate of 3.4 % have enabled more women than ever before to get into paid work,” Ruth Dyson said.

The full report can be seen at the Department of Labour website


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