Blue collar bears brunt
With the latest official job market statistics due for release tomorrow, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) today draws attention to available figures from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) which show that blue collar workers – skilled and unskilled, have suffered far more than white collar workers from rising unemployment during the recession.
According to LFS figures, published on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website the rise in the blue collar unemployment rate in the year ending March 2009 was more than three times greater than that for people with managerial and professional skills and almost three times greater than that for people with administrative and secretarial skills (see attached table). Since the LFS counts as ‘unemployed’ people who are jobless and actively seeking work, rather than simply those receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance, these figures are not distorted by the possibility that managers and professionals might have a lower propensity to sign on for benefits and thus provide the most reliable official indicator of the relative impact of the jobs downturn on different groups of workers.
The relatively lower rise in white collar unemployment is likely to be in part explained by continued growth in overall public sector employment during the recession to date and also to the fact that skilled managers and professionals have a better chance of making an early return to work when they lose their jobs. By contrast, skilled blue collar trades people have been hit hard by the recession in the manufacturing and construction sectors, the manufacturing sector having suffered the largest proportionate loss of jobs. And as might be expected, the least skilled blue collar workers (those performing ‘elementary occupations’) have been the biggest losers in the jobs downturn. John Philpott, Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), says that the LFS figures suggest that the common perception that the UK is experiencing a ‘white collar recession’, unlike those of the 1980s and 1990s, is somewhat wide of the mark: “The relative impact of the Brown recession on different groups of workers looks remarkably similar to the Thatcher and Major recessions of the early 1980s and 1990s, with skilled and unskilled blue collar workers once again bearing the brunt.
He added: “Heavy job losses in the financial and business services sectors – plus the fact that jobless managers and professionals often attract more public attention, probably explain why there has been so much talk about a ‘white collar recession’. But the unemployment figures clearly show that blue collar manual workers have suffered most.”
Recruitment news brought to you by theHRDIRECTOR magazine
14 July 2009