The Great Mancession Ends

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The Great Mancession Ends

As we've discussed in our analysis of Addressing the Looming U.S. Job Challenge, the trend toward a jobless recovery started to surface over 20 years ago and has continued to get worse. But that's not the only change that's happened in labor demography in recent decades.

Not only has the workforce participation of women increased, but on average their jobs have turned out to be much more stable than those occupied by men. That has led some analysts to refer to the most recent calamity as the "Great Mancession."

Consider that according to a recent Pew Research Center1 report covering the period from December 2007 to June 2009:

  • 7.5 million total jobs were lost.
  • Men lost 5.4 million of those jobs.
  • Women lost the other 2.1 million jobs.
  • The unemployment rate for men climbed from 5.1 percent to 10.6 percent.
  • For women, the unemployment rate rose from 4.9 percent to 8.3 percent.
Payroll Employment: Male vs. Female

Payroll Employment: Male vs. Female - January 2002 to February 2011

In short, the numbers show that men sustained 72 percent of the job losses.

Why? The inequity of job loss in the most recent downturn was driven by how male and female workers are distributed across industries. The industries in which male workers are more concentrated are the ones that experienced more job losses. For example, huge reversals in the construction and manufacturing sectors caused men to lose 2.8 million jobs, whereas women in those sectors only lost 737,000.

Furthermore, certain industries that have a low proportion of male employees actually added jobs during the recession. Specifically, education and health services added a total of 619,000 jobs. By gender, 491,000 of those jobs were filled by women, while only 128,000 were filled by men.

The federal government also created jobs during the recession, adding a total of 57,000. To fill those jobs, 34,000 women were hired versus 23,000 men. At the same time, local governments hired 141,000 women. Many of those jobs were created by President Obama's 2009 stimulus package, in which one-third of the money went to state and local governments, in an apparent attempt to keep public-sector union members employed...

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