New research shows Australia's recovery from the pandemic recession widened the gender pay gap, as women's jobs returned on a more part-time and casualised basis than for men.
Alison Pennington, senior economist at the Centre for Future Work and author of the report, said the gendered nature of the pandemic recessions on Australia's labour market worsened pay inequality.
Women lost jobs at a greater rate than men when the pandemic hit - declining almost 8 per cent between February and May last year, more than 2 percentage points worse than for men.
Job recovery has also been gendered. Women held 53,000 fewer jobs in January this year than last, while male employment grew by 7000 jobs. Women disproportionately returned to work in casual and part-time jobs.
Using total average earnings data, Ms Pennington determined the gender pay gap is 31 per cent across all jobs, including overtime pay. It compares with a 13.4 per cent gender pay gap for full-time salaries.
"The gendered employment recovery is disproportionately leaving women with less hours, security and pay than men-a clear example of why a simple post-COVID 'snap back' was never adequate for women," Ms Pennington said.
"Women have been bearing the brunt of the COVID recession while governments have targeted stimulus spending in bloke-heavy industries, neglecting investment in industries that support women's employment, including healthcare, education and social services. To stop further deterioration in pay inequality, targeted efforts to lift women's work and earning opportunities is critical."
The report identifies expansion of casual work in the government's industrial relations package, public sector pay caps and a high-cost inaccessible childcare system as policies that could further widen pay inequality in the coming year.
Having a job is not enough for women facing historic undervaluation of paid work, Ms Pennington said.
"Focused investment in women's job creation, free childcare, and wage-boosting industrial relations policies are all within reach of governments."
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