Saturday, October 30, 2010
It's time we faced up to the consequences of growing income inequality. In the Great Recession, the top income earners have recovered, while the poor have gotten poorer. And the disparities in family life make things even worse. The average family requires two incomes to get by. In a recession, two incomes may cushion the effects of a layoff. Yet, increasingly, the ability to manage marriage and wage-earning has become a marker of class.
First, let's look at the employment numbers. The Great Recession disproportionately affected construction and manufacturing, and therefore it disproportionately affected men. Between December 2007 and October 2009, non-farm jobs dropped by 5.8 million for men, but only 2.5 million for women. The result produced the largest unemployment gap between men and women in the post-war era.
Second, think about what may happen next. In September of this year, local governments laid off workers at the fastest rate in thirty almost years. The layoffs disproportionately affected those involved in education, a field that includes more women than men. Economists predict that without renewal of stimulus spending or greater assistance to the states, more cuts in government employment should be expected next year. It's clear that a family with two incomes is in a better position to keep some income coming in; a family with one wage-earner is more vulnerable to downturns that affect some sectors more than others.
Read more here.