Why are women more jobless than men?
This piece, started on National Women’s Day, the eighth of March, which is National Women’s Month, examines why joblessness (“walang trabaho” is what SWS survey respondents say) of women always exceeds that of men.
In December 2017, 26.7 percent of adult women in the labor force were jobless, compared to only 7.6 percent of adult men (see “Fourth Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey: Adult joblessness falls to 15.7%; 5.9% lost their jobs involuntarily, 8.3% resigned; Net Optimism with job availability at record high Excellent +41,” www.sws.org.ph, posted 1/23/18).
The proportions pertain to the population at least 18 years old, being byproducts of the SWS quarterly survey of adults. The official definition of the labor force is different; it starts at age 15.
The latest joblessness rate of men is very good news—the first time in 14 years to be single-digit again. It’s a very welcome fall from the 13.5 percent in September 2017.
The new female joblessness rate, however, is unchanged from its 26.5 percent in September. For the women’s percentage to be four times that of men is not unusual. In the long series of SWS quarterly surveys, since September 1993, it reached at least 40 percent many times. Women are never less jobless than men.
The job history of jobless women and men. Of the jobless men in December 2017, 18.4 percent were looking for work for the first time in their lives. They were mainly young people.
Of the jobless women, on the other hand, only 6.3 percent were seeking their first job. Women, in general, go into and out of the labor force more frequently in their working lives, and they don’t stay in one job as long as men do.
Of the jobless men last December, only one-third (36.0 percent) had resigned from their work, while most (45.6 percent) had lost their jobs involuntarily. Of the latter, many (33.5 percent) had completed an assignment and been unable to get a new one—i.e., they were “between jobs.” Another 8.6 percent had been laid off. And 3.5 percent were from companies that had closed shop.
Of the jobless women, on the other hand, the majority (59.0 percent) had voluntarily resigned from their jobs. That’s almost double the resignation rate of men.
Only 22.5 percent of the jobless women were between jobs; 4.1 percent had been laid off; and 8.0 percent had been in firms that closed shop.
Women resign mainly for family-related reasons. Three-fourths (72 percent) of the women that had resigned cited family reasons, such as getting married, having a child, having illness or death in the family, or having to change residence. But only one-fourth (24 percent) of the men that resigned gave such reasons.
Complaints about low pay and/or low work benefits were reasons cited by one-fourth of those that resigned their jobs, equally for women (24 percent) and for men (27 percent).
Other reasons that men cited for leaving their jobs were overly long working hours (21 percent) and hazardous working conditions (23 percent). These account for the remaining half of men’s resignations.
The women that cited low compensation or benefits were only 2 percent. Those that resigned because the work was bad for their health were only 4 percent.
The “joblessness” of women is only what appears in the market economy; women have constant work responsibility at home.
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