UK workforce shrinks after large increase in number of people choosing to leave work | Economic recovery

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has made the UK workforce smaller, younger and more female after a surge in the number of people leaving work during the lockdown, according to a report.

The Resolution Foundation said that while mass unemployment had been avoided during the Covid-19 emergency, there had been an increase in the number of people who had left the workforce and were no longer looking for work.

Reflecting a sharp increase in early retirements among older workers, the think tank said economic inactivity – a measure of those unemployed, but not looking for work – had climbed by 586,000 since the crisis began. .

Along with a decline in employment in sectors with a high proportion of working men, such as construction and industry, he said these trends had led to a shrinking UK workforce, leaving a more concentrated number of women and young adults to form the backbone of the UK economy.

Britain’s labor force participation fell by 1.2 percentage points among workers aged 55 to 64, the biggest drop in any recession in the past 40 years, according to the report.

In contrast, women’s participation increased by 0.4 percentage points, building on a pre-crisis trend of increasing female employment levels over the past decades. Highlighting the change, he said the proportion of women in the UK workforce had increased from around 44% in 1992 to 48% of the total labor force.

The numbers come amid concerns that women who work predominantly from home risk being caught in an ‘assignment’ as more men return to the office after the pandemic, gaining a career advantage over to their female colleagues working remotely.

Catherine Mann, a member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, said this month that virtual working methods, such as video conferencing, cannot replicate spontaneous conversations in the office that are important for advancement professional.

However, the Resolution Foundation found that the switch to remote work during the pandemic had helped some women keep their jobs. Seeing a sharp increase in official labor market figures for the participation of mothers with young children in particular, he said that the participation of mothers with children aged 0 to 3 increased by 5.4 percentage points.

According to a survey of 6,100 adults conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Think Tank, up to one in 10 mothers in a relationship said working remotely allowed them to enter work or increase their hours. , against one in 20 as a couple. fathers and women without children.

He has also seen an increase in the number of women increasing their hours or entering work to make up for a partner’s loss of work.

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The report, compiled in collaboration with the Center for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, said the rise of hybrid work could help maintain higher participation levels among women.

However, the changes are concentrated among the highest paid workers and those living in London, where there are generally more jobs that can be done from home.

Hannah Slaughter, economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: ‘We need to bank on the benefits of more flexible work models in post-pandemic Britain and avoid the risk of remote workers being turned into second-class personnel. , as we have done with a lot of part-time workers.

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