Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Unemployment Rate Higher for Men than Women

MaleUSA Today has an article that reports the unemployment rate is higher for men than for women. From December 2007 to December 2008, the unemployment rate for men rose from 4.4% to 7.2%. For women during that same time period, the unemployment rate rose from 4.3% to 5.9%. More men than women are in the workforce, which probably accounts for the overall unemployment rate coinciding with the rate for men at 7.2%, but 61% of women over age 20 are in the workforce.

The sex differential may be based on sex segregation in occupations or differences in hours:

Three-quarters of the workers in the health care and education sectors are women, according to economic consulting firm IHS Global Insight. Employers added 536,000 workers in those two fields in 2008, a 2.9% gain.

At the same time, men represent 93% of workers in construction and 72% in manufacturing. Employers cut 632,000 construction jobs in 2008, an 8.5% drop, while 791,000 manufacturing jobs were cut, a 5.7% decline.

Such a division is nothing new and has been seen in prior recessions, says Anne Winkler, economics professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

•Women are more likely to work part time than men, perhaps making them less vulnerable. Approximately 25% of women work part time vs. 12% of men, Mission Residential chief economist Richard Moody says.

"When employers are actively cutting hours for the workers they do keep, it could be that those already working part time have a bit more security … as they are not likely to be receiving benefits and in general, are likely to cost employers less than full-time workers," he says.

Some of the women who remain employed are already the sole breadwinners for their families, and the lower unemployment rate is good news for them, but does not signal an easy route through the recession by any means. For those families that have both male and female breadwinners, the lower unemployment rate for women may help them keep their heads above water. Lots of food for thought.



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The converse of the old joke comparing headlines upon news that the world would end tomorrow: for the New York Times: "World Ending: Women, Minorities, and Poor Hit Hardest."

Posted by: James Young | Jan 13, 2009 8:19:25 PM

But in the same issue, the Times Style section would have a story about how the end of the world means Upper East Siders have fewer vacation options and can't hire decent household help.

Posted by: eric | Jan 15, 2009 3:31:09 PM

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