According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. But it certainly doesn’t feel like that for most small business owners and the nearly 10 percent of the labor force that remains unemployed.
During the so-called recovery there have been a number of studies produced analyzing how different groups have fared. A recent study by the Pew Research Center reveals key differences between men and women with respect to finding work. The bottom line—men are doing much better than women.
During the two year period from June 2009 through May 2011 the unemployment rate for men dropped from 10.6 percent to 9.5 percent. While still high, this is a marked improvement. Women, however, have seen their unemployment rate go up instead of down—8.5 percent of women in the labor force are unemployed, an increase of 0.2 percent during the same period. During this period men as a group gained 768,000 jobs while women lost 218,000 jobs.
Perhaps most surprising is the fact that this situation is the exact opposite of what took place during the Great Recession itself, which lasted from December 2007 through June 2009. During that period, 71 of every 100 people who lost their jobs were men, over twice the rate of women. The trend was consistent across 15 of the 16 key sectors of the economy.
- In the five sectors where both men and women gained jobs, men gained jobs at a higher rate.
- In the five sectors where both men and women lost jobs, men lost them at a lower rate.
- In five sectors men gained jobs while women lost them.
- In one sector women outperformed men: local government jobs.
There are several hypotheses as to why this may be the case. Since men tend to represent a higher proportion of workers in sectors that were especially hard-hit during the recession—like construction—it follows that they were over represented in layoffs. As those industries start to stabilize, hiring managers realize they may have gone a little too far in letting workers go and need to hire again at a faster rate than other sectors.
Another theory is that because men experienced such a steep increase in the unemployment rate during The Great Recession they have a larger proportion of pent up personal financial pressure. Thus they are more willing—at the moment—to accept jobs at less than ideal terms such as those that offer lower pay or poorer working conditions.
This trend comes at the same time as the U.S. is experiencing a significant increase in the number of women earning college degrees. According to the recent report “Educational Attainment in the United States 2010,” published by the U.S. Census Bureau, 35 percent of the adult male population has earned at least a bachelor’s degree. For women the rate is 37 percent. For younger men and women, the difference is more pronounced. For adults aged 25 to 29, only 28 percent of men have a college degree versus 36 percent of women. Women are also making significant increases in the number of students studying science, technology, engineering and math. It seems like the present and future employment trends are on a collision course.
Have you seen any significant changes in the gender of the applicants at your company? Has the percentage of men versus women increased? Has it been a significant change? Share your experiences in the comments section of the article.