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Low paid jobs hardest hit by recession

The retail industry has seen the largest rise in people claiming the dole during the last year, a new TUC report reveals today.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Low paid jobs hardest hit by recession

The retail industry has seen the largest rise in people claiming the dole during the last year, a new TUC report reveals today.

Retail is followed by goods handling and storage workers, with an annual increase of 47,420 claimants, and general office assistants with an increase of 46,330.

Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) Claims by Occupation finds that between July 2008 and July 2009 the number of people claiming the dole increased by more than 700,000. Workers in every sector have been hit by the downturn, but sales and retail assistant

s have been affected the most in the last 12 months with a 76,230 increase in the number of shop workers showing up in the claimant count. Job losses at high street shops including Woolworths (27,000 jobs), Clinton Cards (2,100 jobs) and Land of Leather (1,000 jobs) have contributed.

The larger numbersof claimants from these groups can partly be explained by the larger number of jobs in these areas across the economy, but unskilled and low-paid occupations are also experiencing higher rates of unemployment than professional groups.

While the unemployment rate for workers in elementary occupations is 12.7 per cent, and has risen 3.6 percentage points on the year, the rate for those in professional occupations is 2.3 per cent, and has risen by 1.2 percentage points.

The TUC analysis also reveals that many low-paid jobs have disproportionately large numbers of JSA claimants compared to the size of their workforce. For example, more than one in three (37 per cent) of those who usually have junior admin jobs are currently claiming JSA, as are nearly one in three (30 per cent) of those who normally have basic jobs in processing plants and one in five (20 per cent) of those who usually work in storage and warehouse occupations.

In contrast, just one per cent of those who usually work as finance and office managers and as legal professionals are claiming JSA, showing that the risks of experiencing unemployment are higher for workers in lower paid jobs.

And the recession has significantly increased these risks: in the five worst affected occupations (see notes to editors) the proportion of workers who are unemployed has doubled over the year (from 11 per cent in July 2008 to 22 per cent in July 2009).

Low-paid workers are also likely to spend far longer on JSA than other groups. Looking at the proportion of claimants who are unemployed for over 26 weeks, 41 per cent of those in elementary sales jobs, 40 per cent of those in basic process plant occupations and 40 per cent of those in unskilled housekeeping roles have been unemployed for over six months.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'These figures explode the myth that this is some kind of classless - or even middle-class - recession. It's the low skilled and the low-paid who are bearing the brunt of this recession. And they are certainly not seeing any recovery.

'And with unemployment set to increase throughout the whole of next year, and possibly beyond, tackling joblessness must be Government's number one priority.

'It's clear many people are spending a long time on the dole, and 64.30 a week is not enough to get through the week. Increasing JSA by as little as 10 a week would make a real difference to millions of families.

'The Government must do all it can to tackle joblessness and the permanent scar of long-term unemployment.'

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