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Monday
Mar212011

Women Lag Behind Men in Economic Recovery

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Women are lagging behind men in the nation's slow economic recovery, new government statistics show.

Of the 1.3 million jobs created in the last 12 months, some 90 percent have gone to men, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women have gained just 149,000 jobs.

There's no question that the recession hit men particularly hard, with jobs slashed from traditionally male-dominated sectors like manufacturing and construction. Men have still lost more net jobs than women have since the start of the recession in December 2007, with men losing a net 4.9 million jobs, while women have lost 2.5 million jobs.

While you might expect men to recover more jobs since far more men were put out of work, there are some signs that things have gotten worse for women rather than better. Looking at the data since the end of the recession in July 2009, men have gained 600,000 jobs while women have lost 300,000 jobs.

While government spending has gone toward investments in infrastructure like roads, there have been cuts in public education and other public-sector service jobs. Women make up some 57 percent of the public workforce, but between July 2009 and Feb. 2011, they lost a far higher proportion of the jobs. Nearly 80 percent of the public-sector jobs cut during that period were held by women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As unemployed women look for work, experts also point to cultural biases that may hinder their search. While anti-discrimination laws prohibit the practice, some employers may believe that male workers will clock longer hours or be more dedicated to their jobs.

"Women undertake more of the family work than men do," said Frances Rosenbluth, a professor of international politics and deputy provost for the social sciences at Yale University. "Despite laws, people won't hire women for jobs that require long hours or travel."

An out-of-work man may also benefit from an employer's sympathetic assumption that he's his family's breadwinner, even though American families have come to depend on income from women far more than in decades past. Strober said that wives now contribute roughly 30 percent of a married couple's earnings, and nearly a quarter of children under 18 live in single-mother households.

At the high end of the employment pool, women may have been affected more by the recession than many realized. Female leaders at the most senior levels of companies were three times more likely to lose jobs than men during the recession, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit organization focusing on women and business.

Catalyst found that part of the reason for that disparity is that women's mentors were less senior than those of men, and when it comes time to lay off employees, that can be a disadvantage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

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