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Infographic: Is This a "He-Covery" to Climb Out of the Great "Man-Cession?" 'Man-Cession,' and a Hard Road Back to Work for Women Infographic: Is This a "He-Covery" to Climb Out of the Great "Man-Cession?" 'Man-Cession,' and a Hard Road Back to Work for Women

Infographic: Is This a "He-Covery" to Climb Out of the Great "Man-Cession?" 'Man-Cession,' and a Hard Road Back to Work for Women

by Alex Goldmark
April 8, 2011



Last summer, a few snarky economics reports diagnosed our economic condition as a "man-cession," because layoffs were hitting men lot more than they were hitting women. GOOD explained why at the time, and asked if the same forces that caused "man-cession," would lead to a "man-covery." Well, almost. There's a catchier name now.

As we turn that economic corner, we're in a "he-covery," but the news to watch now is how women are being left behind. That's according to data from Dr. James Heintz of the Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The graphic above, kindly produced for us by the good folks at The Public Society illustrates the point. (Click here or on the image for a larger version.)

"It's true that men's employment fell more in the recession than women's employment, but that's been true of most recessions in recent memory," Heintz says. Men tend to work disproportionately in industries more sensitive to the business cycle like manufacturing, finance or construction, those are coming back more now. "In this recovery, men's employment has begun to come back. Women's employment has not. It has stagnated."

The jobs that are coming back just aren't going to many women, Heintz says. Tony Pugh wrote an excellent piece earlier this year for McClatchy Newspapers based on government data that show of the "984,000 new jobs created from January 2010 to January 2011... Only 47,000 went to women."

What's more, Pugh writes, "men have gained 438,000 jobs since the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, while women have lost 366,000 over the same period."

To take a quick step back, part of that is explained by the whole idea of a "man-cession." If more men lost work than women, then it makes sense that they'd gain more jobs back after the recession. The term "man-cession" is accurate in that, far more men lost their jobs than women. Professor Mark Perry of the University of Michigan who coined the term, writes "for every 100 jobs lost by women since the start of the recession, men have lost 193.5 jobs."

That's for a few reasons. Women are more concentrated within the labor force in sectors like education and health care where public money helped cushion the full impact of economic collapse. Heintz points out, those public sector industries were especially cushioned with stimulus money, a sizable a portion of which went to state budgets, helping to stave off cutbacks and layoffs.

But that's exactly why women may soon become especially vulnerable, he says. "Now there's no more stimulus money. And what we're seeing instead are a lot of budget cutting proposals," Heintz says. "That can only hurt women's employment. It's too early to say from the statistics, but I don't see how it can be positive."

Christine Grumm, CEO of the Women's Funding Network, a philanthropy network, is worried some particular subsets of women will be overlooked. She says one group of females was especially hard hit and not recovering. "Single moms who are heads-of-households, got left behind. They are at about 13 percent unemployment... And this leads to a higher percentage of children in poverty," she says. "The recovery has not pulled them up out."

Making sure the recovery reaches them will take special effort. Grumm wants to see more support for women who want to start small business, as well as more training in industries that are growing.

"I don't think you are going to have recovery with single mom, head-of-households if you don't have wrap-around services for them," like child care, housing assistance, education and training that, she says, could be provided by a mix of government and nonprofit providers.

Image, with permission, The Public Society.

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