Only 30 Percent of New Post-Recession Jobs Have Gone to Women
3:30 pm, February 11th | by Colette McIntyre
While the recession caused men to lose more net jobs than women, it appears that men are benefiting disproportionately from the economic recovery: according to the New York Times‘ charts, recent job growth has fallen across an economic divide, with women holding only 30 percent of the 5.3 million jobs added since the recession.
For the first time since the 1950s, the trend of women holding an ever-increasing portion of jobs has stalled. Fewer women over 20 are currently working than were working at the bottom of the recession; 56.6 percent of 20+ year-old women had jobs last month, compared to 67.6 percent of similarly-aged men. Middle-aged women are doing particularly poorly, the 45-to-54 age group seeing the sharpest decline in employment patterns. The Pew Research Center reported that women were the only group studied whose job growth lagged behind population growth between 2009 and 2011.
The aforementioned fact that men simply lost more jobs during the recession is partially responsible for the unequal recovery; yet, as Ian Sherpherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomic Advisors, points out, the trend may also be a result of “who has, and has not, been hiring”: “Women are more likely to be employed by small service-sector companies than by large manufacturers,” Sherpherdson told the Times. The increasing loss of government jobs is also to contributing to this problem; according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 80 percent of the public-sector jobs cut between July 2009 and February 211 were held by women.
Many believe that severe public-sector jobs cuts are the main obstacle that women face in reemployment, but it seems to me that it will be good ol’ gender biases that really challenge women seeking work. If large manufacturers aren’t likely to employ women, as Sherpherdson acknowledges, then it’s clear that some prejudiced understandings of “women’s work” remain. Why shouldn’t a woman gain a position in the recovering manufacturing and construction sectors? The unequal recovery may also be a result of old-fashioned tendencies to view men as the “breadwinners”: as Myra Strober, Stanford University professor of education and economics, told ABC News, there is evidence “that historically when jobs are scarce, employers favor men because they feel that it’s up to men to earn a family wage and support their families.”