2018 WBG Briefing: Women, Employment and Earnings

Date Posted: Thursday 11th October 2018

October 2018

BudgetEmploymentPaySelf Employment

Ahead of the 2018 Autumn Budget, we’ve put together a briefing on recent changes to the labour market by gender.

View and download the full briefing here (October 2018)

This briefing was updated following the 2018 Autumn Budget to reflect the changes announced by the Chancellor.

View and download the updated briefing here (November 2018)

Key points:


  • Employment rates are at record levels but the gender employment gap is still 9 percentage points and this widens to 24 points when measured in full-time equivalent.
  • Women are now 47% of those in employment but are still the majority of those in part-time employment (73%), involuntary part-time employment (54%), temporary employment (52%), zero-hour contracts (53.6%) and part-time self-employment (60%).
  • Unemployment rates have fallen faster for men than for women since the peak of 2011; long-term unemployment prevalence has increased for women over 50 while decreased for men.
  • Employment rates of Bangladeshi and Pakistani women still lag behind that of other groups. Bangladeshi and Pakistani women are also more likely to work in the public sector meaning they are more exposed to the loss in employment and pay freeze than other groups.
  • Wages have continued to stall in real terms since 2016 and are still below their 2008 peak level.
  • The Gender pay gap has continued to fall, however it has increased in the public sector and for full-time employees it is at its highest level since 1999.
  • Women account for 70% of low earners (67% of full-time low earners), a proportion slightly up from 2011 (69%) when measured as earnings below 60% of full-time weekly earnings.
  • Following the Supreme Court ruling to reverse the increase in fees for employment tribunals the number of tribunal claims has risen.
  • Paid employment will only provide a reliable route out of poverty for women if action is taken to address continued gendered inequalities in the labour market.

Written by:
Jerome De Henau, Senior Lecturer at the Open University
Scarlet Harris, TUC Women’s Officer
Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Women’s Budget Group