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March 24, 2009 12:01am

FOLLOWING a national trend, men are taking the brunt of the economic downturn in Australia’s fastest growing state with more than 22,000 losing their jobs in the past 12 months in Queensland.

In comparison, the number of employed women grew by 600 in the same period.

As the state’s unemployment breached the 100,000 figure in February, with the loss of 3000 jobs in that month, the noticeable feature was a heavy bias against men.

The huge difference is blamed on the major changes in the state’s economy in the past 20 years in which labour intensive and traditionally male dominated jobs in manufacturing have disappeared while service sector jobs, which favour women, have grown.

More recently, the huge losses in the state have been in the mining sector, which is dominated by men.

That situation is unlikely to get better, with BHP Billiton last week striking a deal with Japanese steel mills for a 60 per cent cut in price for coking coal to about $US129 a tonne.

Volumes also fell 12 per cent in the December quarter and analysts and unions believe this will be the main factor, not prices.

Thousands more jobs in the mining sector are predicted to go if the Federal Government goes ahead with its emission trading scheme.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows the number of unemployed women in February was 42,600 while among men, unemployment has reached 60,300 creating a headache for the new Bligh Government and its promise to protect and create jobs.

Newly appointed Jobs Minister Andrew Fraser said the Government’s target to create 100,000 jobs in the space of three years was a “massive target” and hard to meet.

But while the figures have a bias against men, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry said they did not show that women had also been significantly affected because they made up a large proportion of the casual or part-time workforce where hours have been significantly cut.

The share of part-time workers in the workforce is also at record highs.

The long-term trend is for full-time workers working less hours and part-time workers working more hours.

Recently, the big job losses have been among skilled professional and technical positions as well as real estate and mining.

Economists said males have been the big losers in the job race in recent years, particularly in the blue-collar areas.

“As the economy has restructured over the past several decades there has been a tendency for job losses in male dominated areas,” University of Queensland economist Gillian Whitehouse said.

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,25232840-5005941,00.html

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