Construction workers are among those hardest hit by the recession, according to a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
It reports that blue-collar unemployment in the year to March was three times greater than for workers with managerial and professional skills.
CIPD chief economist John Philpott said: “The relative impact of the Brown recession on different groups of workers looks remarkably similar to the Thatcher and Major recessions of the early 1980s and 1990s, with skilled and unskilled blue-collar workers once again bearing the brunt.
“Heavy job losses in the financial and business-services sectors probably explain why there has been so much talk about a white-collar recession.”
But the figures clearly show that blue-collar manual workers, particularly the least-skilled and those in the building trade, have suffered most, he says.
The relatively lower rise in white-collar unemployment is partly explained by continued growth in the public sector, he says, and the fact that skilled managers and professionals have a better chance of finding another job.