Despite the slight fall in overall unemployment levels, revealed by official figures yesterday, it seems it is women who are feeling the hit the hardest.

The CIPD said “cuts in public spending are already having an adverse impact on job prospects for women”, as the latest data from the Office for National Statistics showed a fall of 40,000 in the number of unemployed men but an increase of 31,000 in the number of jobless women.

Total unemployment fell by 9,000 in the three months to September, leaving the overall jobless figure almost unchanged at 2.45 million, while the UK’s unemployment rate remained level at 7.7 per cent.

But the number of women out of work has risen by 77,000 to 1 million over the past year. The female unemployment rate now stands at 7 per cent – equal to the worst level since 1995, which marks a high point since the start of the jobs recession in 2008.

John Philpott, the CIPD’s chief economic adviser, said that this quarter’s rise in employment was mainly due to more men entering self-employment, while the female part of the workforce was bearing the brunt of the squeeze on public-sector spending.

“Women are likely to have been adversely affected by fewer vacancies in public administration, education, health and social work,” Philpott explained. “The public sector, which has a relatively high concentration of female workers, is also the only sector to record an increase in redundancies in the latest quarter.

“Whatever the overall rate of job creation in the economy in the coming months, the negative impact on employment of fiscal austerity is likely to continue to hit women much harder than men.”