Today, Heather Boushey, my colleague at the Center for American Progress, has a piece in Slate talking about how despite the fact that there has been steady job growth in the economic recovery from the "he-cession," women are the big losers. While men have experienced steady gains in employment (private-sector manufacturing, for instance, has seen growth in the recession), women actually lost jobs in the summer of 2010. Boushey provides some reasons this might be:
Men and women continue to work in separate industries and occupations, which have been affected differently by the recession. Manufacturing and construction accounted for half of the jobs lost during the recession; these jobs, as we are so often told, are disproportionately held by men. And now, for men, they're coming back: From November 2009 to November 2010, men gained 126,000 manufacturing jobs, while women have lost 18,000. Meanwhile, men have made even greater gains in professional business services: 278,000 new jobs, compared with 103,000 for women. In trade, transportation, and utilities, men gained 245,000 jobs while women lost 74,000. In administrative and waste services, men gained 231,000 and women gained only 137,000.
This is, in part, due to the massive losses in public-sector jobs many state and local governments have experienced in the post-stimulus economy. As states struggle with massive budget deficits with no more help coming from the federal government, they've begun to fire state-level employees, jobs that are disproportionately held by women; six in 10 state and local workers are women. Teachers, for instance, are mostly women, yet face massive layoffs nationwide.
A coalition of women's groups that are concerned about women's economic security hosted a forum that I attended on this very subject last week on Capitol Hill. One of the major takeaways from the data presented was that women are simply in a much more precarious situation economically than men. Women still tend to make less than their male peers, leading to long-term smaller Social Security payouts and smaller 401Ks. Women are also less likely than men to have a job that offers a pension (about 30 percent of women compared to nearly half of men).
It is both through a combination of differing types of jobs that men and women work as well as outright gaps in pay and benefits that are allowing women to fall behind in the economic recession.
-- Kay Steiger