In January, I wrote about the end of the so-called "Mancession." I commented then that the term was a media device for pitting the genders against one another to minimize the full impact of the recession on everyone.
Job growth is still terrible. It's marginally better for men right now. Women are just about to lose whatever ground they've been gaining in employment.
The "mancession" is behind us. Men suffered 69 percent of the job losses between the onset of the recession in December 2007 and last February, when the labor market hit bottom. Job growth in the 14 months since has been anemic, though men have fared noticeably better than women. While men have regained only a fifth of the jobs they lost, women have done even worse, recovering less than a tenth.
The job situation for women is poised to deteriorate further. Cuts in K-12 schooling and in services at the state and local levels have already begun, and public officials are proposing ever more draconian measures. More and more states and municipalities are making plans to shortchange the education of our youth and to deny vulnerable children, the disabled and the frail elderly access to Medicaid, health and personal care services. When these cuts are made, it’s women’s jobs that will be on the chopping block.
It was construction and manufacturing jobs that were lost in the earlier parts of the recession, jobs that are traditionally more male dominated, which was where all the talk of the "mancession" came from. Women, who traditionally work in teaching, health care, and service related jobs were not hit hard at the beginning. Or to look at it another way, the higher paying jobs were the first to go.
Working in different occupations made women less vulnerable to job losses during the crash, but it now threatens to penalize them as the economy recovers. Since the expansion began, men gained back 263,000 jobs in manufacturing, and are beginning to gain jobs in construction. Women, in contrast, continue to lose jobs in both sectors. In private education and health services, expansion of women’s jobs has slowed. Men held 23 percent of jobs in this sector when the recession began, but gained 37 percent of the additional jobs created. The bigger story, however, is playing out in the public sector. After holding up well during the economic contraction, employment in the public sector has defied the recovery and declined by 284,000 jobs through April, all of them at state and local levels. Three quarters of the public sector job decline was due to jobs lost by women, mostly in K-12 education and other local government jobs. The news for women is likely to get even worse as the school year ends and pink slips go out.
For those families who are hanging on by a thread on the income generated by a teaching job, this has the potential to be a disaster. Out there in the land of working families, the cutesy terms created by the media are meaningless. What these families know is that if both partners lose their jobs foreclosure and homelessness are moving ever closer.
cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org