YOUNG women have born the brunt of falling employment during central Victoria's COVID-19 crisis.
Data shows the percentage of women in their teens, 20s and early 30s engaged in the workforce has dropped dramatically, the steepest falls of any group. The percentage of men the same age in the workforce has actually risen.
But youth representatives say these statistics also only tell part of the story, with underemployment a major problem for young people.
Bendigo Youth Council secretary Jemille McKenzie said the city's youth unemployment rate - already high before the pandemic - had been amplified by the COVID-19 crisis.
Ms McKenzie said it was unsurprising young women had suffered most from employment drops, as they were more likely to be casually employed, and not qualify for JobKeeper.
She said many women were also taking care of young children, no longer able to attend childcare.
Ms McKenzie said young women should be empowered to take up a range of roles, such as manufacturing, beyond those stereotypically considered appropriate.
Employment among women in the 15-24 and the 25-35 age brackets underwent the steepest drop of all genders and age brackets in central Victoria between January and May 2020.
The employment rate among central Victorian women dropped in all but one age group during the same period, Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force data revealed.
May was the latest month for which detailed regional figures by age were available for central Victoria.
Among central Victorian men the reverse was true. The employment rate rose among all age groups, but one.
There was a drop of 9.4 per cent in the rate of women aged 15-24 employed between January and May 2020. For women aged 25-34, the number dropped by 8.5 per cent.
Overall the employment rate for people aged between 15 and 34 remained relatively steady between January and May, moving only a few percentage points.
Bendigo Youth Council mayor Ryan Peterson said many young people hadn't necessarily lost jobs, but had lost hours and income.
Measures such as JobKeeper were good, but missed many young people who were part of the casual workforce, he said.
Mr Peterson said underemployment in Greater Bendigo showed workplaces underestimated the value of what young people could offer.
He said losing hours had a massive affect on people's mental health.
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