11 May 2010

Rejecting the Myth of the “Mancession”

If the idea that men were being disproportionately impacted by our national economic crisis never sat quite right with you, we now know there’s a reason why: it wasn’t precisely true -- particularly over time.

According to a report to be released by the Joint Economic Committee, women have continued to lose jobs even as men have found new ones. As the Associated Press reported,
"As job losses slowed in the final months of 2009, women continued to lose jobs as men found employment," says the report…based on the committee's analysis of unpublished data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specifically, from October 2009 to March 2010, women lost 22,000 jobs while men gained 260,000, it says. "And April's strong employment growth showed women gained 86,000 jobs last month, far fewer than the 204,000 jobs gained by men."
In other words, as things have begun to get better for men on the economic front, they’ve gotten worse for women. Single mothers have paid a particular price during this recession, with their unemployment rate jumping 5 percentage points in 2 years (from 8% in 2007 to 13% in 2009). Add to that the fact that male job loss has had a lasting, tangible impact on women and families (less overall money in dual-parent families means heavier reliance on women’s income, even as women are paid less than men and make up the majority of minimum-wage and part-time workers; in single-parent families, a father’s lost job can mean the end of child-support payments, again putting increased financial pressure on households led by women) and you’ve got a rock solid case for why the concept of a “mancession” is at best misleading, and at worst a myth.

Of course, economic insecurity -- for women, for people of color, for low-income people, for immigrants -- is nothing new under the sun. It’s a trend as long and as deep as our history as a nation. But as we argued back in February, it’s time to do away with the fantasy that economic security -- not to mention “recovery” -- is available to us all in equal measure. (The data from the JEC certainly makes it clear that no such thing is true.) What we really need is a re-thinking of our entire economic system to address the inequities that continue to put women, people of color and others at a disadvantage. Until we get there, though, tossing out the myth of the mancession is a good place to start.

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