When the recession began to take hold in 2008, many predicted that this would be a different sort of recession, with white collar businesses being worst hit and middle and upper income groups worst affected. This was to be a middle class recession. Some of the thinking behind these predictions was clear. With the chaos in the banking industry, surely job sectors like finance would be the worst hit? With the UK economy so dependent on tertiary services it seemed a good bet that white collar job sectors would see the greatest losses. But what was the reality as the recession unfolded?
A new type of recession?
Figures from the Association of Business Recovery Professionals show a slightly different picture. The industry with the greatest number of corporate insolvencies was real estate, renting and business services, with some 12,000 closures, perhaps to be expected as the housing market crashed. But this was more than matched by business closures in the next three industries, construction (7184) retail (6077) and manufacturing (4664), which are overwhelmingly lower paid and blue collar positions. Financial services was some way back with 759 closures. It does seem then that the brunt of the recession remains disproportionately borne by these lower paid jobs and blue collar industries. In terms of job losses for example, manufacturing lost 8.5% of its jobs while financial services lost less than half that percentage, at 3.8%. Total public sector job losses meanwhile reached 6.4%.
And which sectors are doing well?
Although it’s probably an unfortunate byproduct of recession job losses rather than good news in itself, figures show that temporary, contract and part-time job sectors are actually showing increases. Despite public sector cuts, the education and health job sectors are holding up. Utilities like electricity, gas and water continue to be fairly recession proof and the oil and gas exploration and processing sector remains stable. And then of course there are the traditional recession proof industries. Things that people can’t do without, like child care and dentistry do well, alongside small luxuries that make us forget our woes, like alcohol and beauty.
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