[EDITORIALS]Female, 50s and workingThe number of employed women in their 50s surged 9.7 percent this year over last year. They are emerging as a major force in the domestic labor market, as their number reached a monthly average of 1.4 million in the January-October period, surpassing the number of female workers in their 30s and 40s. This phenomenon has some bright sides, as it shows that the female labor force is now made good use of. But it also indicates that our low-income people are having more and more difficulties in their daily lives.
If you look around, you will easily see that the number of middle-aged female workers has surged. This is because the number of jobs that are easy for middle-aged women to do has increased with the weight of service businesses in the industrial structure, while it has become difficult for middle-aged men to find jobs amid the continued restructuring of manufacturing businesses. Middle-aged women have thrown themselves into the job market to relieve their households from economic difficulties due to the instability of the jobs of their husbands and children. They have to do double work ― household affairs plus tough jobs outside.
The quantitative expansion in employment of women in their 50s can easily lead to qualitative deterioration. Most of the women are on short-term contracts, and their jobs are concentrated among wholesalers, retailers and hotels. They are enduring a comparatively poor labor environment and low wages.
The expansion in the number of middle-aged female workers can be viewed in two ways. One is the global trend of the “feminization of labor.” The more developed a country is, the higher the percentage of middle-aged women participating in labor markets. That is because they have a stronger desire for self-realization, if they are freed from household affairs. The other is the “feminization of poverty.” The percentage of women living in poverty has risen because the economy is sluggish, families are being dismantled and the gap between classes is widening. The main reason for the increase in the employment of women in their 50s is that they have been pushed out of their homes to earn money.
The focus of labor policy should be shifted from male regular workers toward female employees in their 50s. A better economy is the only way to expand the number of good jobs and counter the feminization of poverty. A society where middle-aged women are wandering around looking for jobs is not a happy society.