Women and Scotland's changing labour market

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*Emp. L.B. 5 The last 10 years have been something of a roller coaster for the UK economy, during which time we experienced the most serious financial crisis since the 1929 crash and the deepest and longest recession since the great depression of the 1930s. However these events did not result in similar levels of unemployment to those experienced in the 1930s or indeed more recent recessions in the early 1980s and 1990s. The administrative measure of unemployment peaked at 22.1 per cent in 1932, 13 per cent in 1982, 10.3 per cent in 1993 but only 5.2 per cent in 2012. (Denman and McDonald, "Unemployment statistics from 1881 to the present day." Labour Market Trends January 1996; Regional labour market statistics: Headline Indicators for Scotland, Office for National Statistics, 2016 (ONS 2016)). Part of the explanation is due to the changing nature of the labour market in Scotland and the UK, in particular the growth of atypical contracts such as part-time, temporary and more recently zero-hours contracts (ZHC). This has resulted in a situation where we now have record numbers of people in employment, particularly women. In April–June 2015 the employment rate in Scotland for women aged between 16–64 years old was at its highest ever rate of 72 per cent. This increase resulted in a narrowing of the gap in women and men’s employment rates from 8.8–6.8 per cent between 2006 and 2016 (ONS, 2016). However these headline statistics mask some important differences in the nature of employment pursued by women and men in Scotland. For example, 42.4 per cent of women in work in 2016 were employed on part-time contracts compared to 12.9 per cent of men (ONS, 2016). The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines part-time employment as someone working fewer than 30 hours per week. The proportion of women on part-time contracts has remained fairly constant over the past decade while the number of men has risen slightly from 10.5 per cent in 2006.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
Specialist publicationEmployment Law Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2016


  • women
  • gender
  • Scotland
  • labour market


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