lockdowns

COVID lockdowns are a double setback for young women

Re-entering the worst period for lockdowns since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic is a double blow in the financial setback of younger Australian women. According to the...

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Re-entering the worst period for lockdowns since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic is a double blow in the financial setback of younger Australian women.

According to the Financy Women’s Index March quarter report, Australian women are experiencing a somewhat faster employment recovery than men from the jobs fallout caused by the pandemic but as we drill into age groups, we note that its women under 35 years who are being left out of this story.

In March 2020, as we started to see the first rollout of social lockdowns, it was female dominated services sectors such as Retail Trade and Accommodation and Food Services that recorded the most job losses, particularly among younger Australians. People also working in less secure forms of employment such as casually and part-time were also more likely to lose their jobs as businesses were forced to close.

The concern now is that the longer the current stage of lockdowns continues and people are encouraged to stay at home and minimise travel, that we could see a repeat of what occurred a year ago – at the worst possible time.

While it is unlikely that the impact on job losses will be as severe because we now have a slow roll out of vaccinations and businesses are getting better at isolated working, the challenge is that younger Australians who are already behind in the recent jobs recovery are likely to find it even harder to get working again.

Less employment, means less income, less superannuation savings and less money to invest in assets like property. This impact of all this is that it potentially increases the reliance on government assistance in the short and longer term.

Women aged 15-24 years were yet to fully recover in the March quarter with full-time employment numbers down 3% on December and down by 4% on March 2020 – around the start of COVID-19 shutdowns.

The number of women aged 25-34 years engaged in full-time work was down by 1% in the March quarter compared to December and down by 3% on March 2020.

The most recent ABS Labour Force data into the June quarter, also shows that both women and men under 35 years were still yet to see a recovery in full-time job numbers. Women continue to perform slightly better than men in what recovery has been made.

It’s a much better story for women aged 35-54 years with data showing a full recovery in full-time employment numbers (4%) but the strongest bounce back has been in older women aged 65 years and over with a 6% increase since March 2020.

Female dominated sectors have largely driven the record recovery in women’s workforce participation across both part and full-time roles in the March quarter.

Retail Trade and Accommodation and Food Services increased their female workforce by 43% and 34% respectively but reduced male employees by 41% and 44% respectively. It’s important to note this is original data, not seasonally adjusted – meaning seasonal factors have not been taken into account such as holidays.

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