Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Womancession

This recession has been called a mancession because the jobs lost tended to be first in traditionally male industries and because therefore more men than women lost jobs in the first round. I kept reading Men's Rights Activists ranting about this.

Now it seems that we have a mancovery, meaning a recovery of the jobs men lost:
The Great Recession has been called the "mancession" because men absorbed 7 of 10 job losses during the downturn.
Male-dominated industries such as manufacturing, transportation and wholesale trade shed millions of jobs. Even in fields where men weren't a majority of workers, they still got hit harder, said Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research group.
So as these and other industries slowly rebound, Boushey said it's hardly a surprise that men have landed more than 95 percent of new jobs in the recovery, or "mancovery" as it's playing out.
"If I get hit harder than you do, it does make sense that my recovery should be more dramatic. That's just logical," Boushey said. "The way this recession played out, there was this gendered impact across a wide variety of industries, and I think that's what you're seeing coming back.
That quote is about the only good one in the whole article. In general I love McClatchky, but this piece is a numbers coleslaw. Take this, for example:
It was job gains by men that fueled January's steep decline in the national unemployment rate from 9.4 percent to 9 percent.
In fact, 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, according to Labor Department figures.
And the 984,000 new jobs created from January 2010 to January 2011? Only 47,000 went to women.
That's less than 1 of every 20 new job openings.
These numbers would barely draw a second look in the aftermath of past recessions, when women made up a much smaller share of the labor force. But women now account for nearly half of all U.S. workers, so the great disparity is all the more startling.

Are these net figures? In other words, did women since June 2009 gain some jobs and lose some jobs so that the result is a net loss of 366,000 jobs? And did men since June 2009 gain some jobs and lose some jobs so that the result is a net gain of 438,000 jobs? Or are we comparing the gains by men to the losses by women while ignoring the losses by men and the gains by women? And do women now have a higher unemployment rate than men have?

I cannot tell from the article. I may go and study the question. But the article should have made this clearer, because the consequences under one interpretation are humongously important, while under the other interpretation not so much. This problem could have been easily solved by reporting the overall unemployment rates for men and women in June 2009 and now.

Never mind. Maybe I'm the only one who finds all that confusing. But the end of the article is the usual stuff about why it's women's own fault if they become unemployed:
Stacy Ethun, the president and CEO of MRINetwork, an international executive search firm, said she's noticed two things that work against job-seeking women: a lack of aggressiveness and limited use of professional networking options.
"Those are the two areas where women are lagging, and it's impacting their eligibility for employment," Ethun said. "Having the courage and conviction to get out there, call on people that you don't know personally, brag on yourself and compete for a job, those are all things, I think, that men in general are naturally stronger at than women."
Compare this and the way the "mancession" was treated: Men became unemployed through no fault of their own. They were just in the wrong industries. But women! They are unemployed because they are not that good at looking for jobs.

Now, the article does point out that the reason for the "womancession" is the industries which are now suffering from layoffs by local and state governments. So why add that woman-blaming piece at the end? Note that if women are not as good at bragging and so on, that would have an impact not only during recessions but all the time. Adding that bit sounds like woman-bashing to me, an attempt to blame women for their own unemployment in a way which was not done with the "mancession." After all, one could have argued that the men who were unemployed then caused that situation by picking the wrong industries to work in and by refusing to get more educated and so on.

I'm writing about this because otherwise it might be invisible, once again.