How self-employed women in Britain slipped through the coronavirus safety net

As the coronavirus pandemic shreds the global economy, women have been disproportionately swept up in the wave of unemployment. Are government safety nets catching their fall?

The UK is a poignant example. British officials have injected budgetary steroids worth around 15% of GDP into the economy. But despite programs to keep workers on payrolls and to get money to people who worked for themselves, at least 1.4 million self-employed people in the UK—about 2% of the population—have slipped between the cracks, according to government committee estimates.

Men and employees of all stripes are far from immune from the pain. But there are signs that women who work for themselves are being buffeted by the crisis differently, and worse. Many of Britain’s job gains since the Great Recession have been from self-employment, and that’s been even more true for women than for men. Julia Rouse, a professor and employment expert at Manchester Metropolitan University, says a larger proportion of women worked in public sector jobs that were hit by funding cuts after the financial crisis, which partly explains their increase in self employment.

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