The He-Cession Led To A He-Covery

Illustration for article titled The He-Cession Led To A He-Covery

Since men make up more than half of the participants in the labor market (and make more money), they were unsurprisingly harder hit by the recession. Surprisingly, though, they're now better off during the recovery than many women.

Jocelyn Noveck of the Associated Press reports that, even as jobs were finally being added to the American economy, women continued to lose theirs.

"As job losses slowed in the final months of 2009, women continued to lose jobs as men found employment," according to the report, based on the committee's analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including unpublished data. Specifically, from October 2009 to March 2010, women lost 22,000 jobs while men gained 260,000, it says. It adds: "April's strong employment growth showed women gained 86,000 jobs last month, far fewer than the 204,000 jobs gained by men."


Of course, that was the intention of the original stimulus bill: to stem the massive job losses in male-dominated industries. But the problem is that by targeting some industries over others, women are now facing the fall-out.

In fact, even though men have lost their jobs at a greater rate than women, that was always the case in prior economic downturns. But even as women have made up some of the wage gap during this recession, they've made up some of the unemployment gap as well.

In all, one-third of jobs lost during the Great Recession belonged to women, Maloney notes. That is striking, she said, because in earlier recessions the percentage was much lower; women accounted for 15% of job losses in the 2001 recession, for example.


In other words, women are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as a result of this recession than at any other point.

And, of course, single mothers are often bearing the brunt of that fall-out.

Democratic Rep. Carolyn D. Maloney, the committee's chairwoman, noted that the findings were especially dire for single mothers - their unemployment rate went from 8% to 13.6% between 2007 and 2009.

"Women are losing more jobs, yet families are more dependent on their earnings," she said in a telephone interview.


And, Noveck points out, single working mothers who were dependent on child support from their children's fathers might have seen that dry up in addition to their own job prospects as the economy went into freefall.

It's not just single mothers who have been disproportionately effected by the recession: women of color have, on average, about a 50 percent higher unemployment rate than white women, regardless of their marital or parenting status.


And, of course, many women are stuck with only part-time work:

In 2009, 3.3 million women worked part time for economic reasons, the report says, meaning that they did not choose it: Either they could not find full-time work, or their hours had been cut from full time.

Part time means less money, of course. It also means other things: More expensive child care per hour (it can be hard to find part-time child care), less seniority at work and fewer benefits, if any.


Of course, none of the jobs bills dealt with child care subsidies, semi-employed people or the kinds of job-training programs that might help those affected by permanent closures or jobs that simply aren't coming back. It might be a mancession, but if the recovery is as male-dominated as the recession was, that wage gap and participation gap might come roaring back in full force, leaving women worse off then when we all go on this economic rollercoaster together.

The Recession Isn't Gender-Biased [Associated Press]

Related: Employment Status Of The Civilian Population By Sex And Age [Bureau of Labor Statistics]
Jobless Numbers Show No Evidence of a Post-Racial America


Earlier: No, Barack Obama's Economic Plan Is Not Discriminating Against Women
Will The Recession Make Workplace Equity Better For Women?

Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`



So some backstory: I worked briefly as a family law attorney. I represented women who had stopped receiving child support because the dads decided they could stop paying it due to the fact that they received pay cuts - still had jobs, just made a little less. OR I represented the fathers who hired our firm to file petitions to reduce child support.

I have contemplated researching how the "hecession" (UGH) affected single mothers due to fathers failing to pay child support. I have never conducted social research, so I don't know how to go about it, but I was appalled by some of these cases - I had a mom whose ex-boyfriend declined to continue paying child support because his income went from ~$500K per year to ~$300K per year - assuming he was paying the statutorily mandated 20% of his salary, he could have petitioned to reduce payments to 20% of his current salary - but no. He stopped paying altogether. I've wondered how many women had this happen and didn't have the time, energy and money to hire an attorney to force payments and suffered.