Melbourne Labor frontbencher Clare O’Neil says men have been let down by political point scoring during the coronavirus pandemic, and predicts male unemployment will surpass women’s economic hardship in the current climate.
Speaking at the McKell Institute this week, the Shadow Minister for Innovation, Technology and the Future of Work, addressed the future of work and its impacts on men in Australia in the second session of a two-part series.
She said male workers would be increasingly impacted by the collapse of business and on-going lockdowns.
“While women lost more work in the first phase of the recession, the analysis I am releasing today shows ... there is a tsunami coming for workers in predominantly male industries,” she said.
Ms O'Neil was drawing on research from the McKinsey consulting group, which predicted trouble for male-dominated sectors running into March next year. These included construction (88% male) and manufacturing (73% male).
Once JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments were cut back, under half a million jobs would disappear – 60% of them held by men.
She pleaded for a gendered response to the crisis, and an end to fruitless comparisons about who had it worse.
"It’s not a competition between the genders, especially when it comes to who is doing it tougher in a bloody awful recession," she said.
"My point is that everyone is suffering.
“Women had it worse to begin with. Now it is men, and there is evidence that as the months progress, we may see more of this.”
Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed the national male underemployment rate had increased by 3.5% since March, while the female rate had increased by 1.5%.
“It is absolutely the case that a group of economically and socially privileged men are the big winners in the future of work. But for many Australian men, things are going backwards. The public discussion just doesn’t reflect their reality.”
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