This paper examines Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) labour force data between July 1990 and July 1995, the period spanning the 1990-91 economic downturn and subsequent recovery. The purpose of this is to identify what factors differentially influenced men’s and women’s economic outcomes.
Analysis of the effects of the 1990-91 recession shows that job losses were greater and unemployment rates higher for men than for women, and that employment levels recovered more quickly for women than for men.
Employment most affected by the recession was concentrated in the manufacturing, construction and retail trade industries. Other industries affected included finance and insurance, property and business, wholesale trade and transport and storage.
Tradespersons, labourers and clerical, sales and service workers suffered the most in terms of job loss, especially those who were casually employed. Men’s employment was concentrated in the manufacturing and construction industries where large numbers of jobs were lost. Women were most affected by job losses in the finance and insurance, property and business, and retail trades industries.
There have been key structural changes in the labour market since the last recession of the early 1990s, notably a marked shift from manufacturing to services and significant changes to workplace relations arrangements. Analysis of the labour market outcomes during the period from 1990 to 1995 cannot necessarily provide insight into how the current economic downturn could affect the labour market outcomes of women and men differently.