Wed | Feb 26, 2020

Women outrivalling men for jobs

Published:Sunday | January 19, 2020 | 12:45 AMSteven Jackson - Senior Business Reporter
Statin director of surveys Natalee Simpson.
Statin director of surveys Natalee Simpson.

Women are entering the formal job market at nearly twice the pace of men, the latest Statistical Institute of Jamaica data indicates.

“It is a trend that we are seeing,” said Dr Natalee Simpson, the director of surveys at Statin, during the statistical agency’s quarterly press briefing on Friday.

Some 18,600 women entered the labour market, according to the last quarterly survey for October 2019, or “nearly twice” the 10,600 men that entered over the same period. In fact, the pace at which women moves widens more than fivefold when looking at the unemployment rate, an estimate that may include persons no longer searching for a job. Specifically, the number of unemployed females declined by 16,000 persons while the number of males decreased by 3,000 persons.

‘Females making greater gains’

“Do we expect this trend to continue?” said Simpson, rhetorically. “If you look at the trend in the past, females are making greater gains,” she said.

Men still outnumber women in the labour force at 682,800 versus 565,600, but Statin said that trend shows the closing of that gap. The agency declined, however, to comment on whether it forecasts that women will eventually outnumber men in the workforce, saying that such extrapolations of future trends go against its mandate of providing historic data.

Over the past year, females were the preferred gender for filling vacancies for clerical workers, which was the fastest growing area of work. Statin said during the period, October 2018 to October 2019, some 17,700 clerical positions were filled and that females accounted for two-thirds of those spots.

Across the labour market, the unemployment rate is now down to 7.2 per cent which was 1.5 percentage points lower than the rate of 8.7 per cent in October 2018. The fallout of the mining and quarrying sector did not negatively affect the overall job numbers.

The pattern of women in the jobs market aligns with global trends.

Last month, for example, the 2020 Global Gender Gap report produced by the World Economic Forum, a non-aligned think tank based in Switzerland, indicated that more women were entering the workforce both locally and internationally, but also that men still earn more than women on average. It anticipates the pay gap in most nations to be eliminated in 100 years.

Statin does not report on wage movements in its labour force surveys.

The agency, which is the final authority on measuring the economy, also reported that the economy expanded 0.6 per cent for the September quarter, which was driven by the performance of the services sector. That sector expanded 1.2 per cent while the goods sector declined 1.0 per cent.

The standout group in the services sector was ‘hotels and restaurants’, up 2.5 per cent.

“The group, hotels and other short stay accommodation benefited from a 4.9 per cent increase in foreign national arrivals,” said Statin Director General Carol Coy at the quarterly briefing.

Finance and insurance services grew 3.4 per cent, transport and storage grew 1.2 per cent, real estate, renting and business activities grew 0.9 per cent.

The goods producing sector declined mainly due to lower output from the mining and quarrying sector down 17.6 per cent due to closure of bauxite companies. Agriculture recorded a 0.1 per cent decline due to dry weather leading to increased production costs. Construction sector declined 2.1 per cent due to the reduction in road, work activities despite a growth in building construction.

However, on the positive side, the manufacturing sector grew 4.9 per cent due to higher output.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com