(Via Occupy Wall Street.)
According to the Federal Reserve’s economic data, the rate of employment of men has hit historic lows— in fact, it’s at the lowest rate in more than sixty years. And women aren’t doing so well either.
Noah, who is awesome, Photoshopped the two charts together so we can see what’s up:
The top line is men. The bottom line is women.
Note that this is the employment rate: that is, the ratio of the people in the civilian, noninstitutionalized population who are employed to the overall civilian, noninstitutionalized population. So while unemployment just includes people who don’t have jobs and are looking for them, the non-employed population includes discouraged workers (who gave up looking), retirees, homemakers and stay-at-home parents, disabled people who cannot work, etc.
Women are, in general, less likely to be employed than men. There are probably a couple of different reasons: hiring discrimination; the greater acceptability of women being homemakers or stay-at-home parents; even the greater longevity of women (since older people are more likely to be retired). As discrimination against women in the workplace has decreased, they’ve become more and more likely to be employed, which is really cool.
Men are still more likely to be employed than women; however, unlike women, their line is trending fairly solidly down. In 1948, 84% of men were employed; in 2012, only roughly 64% of men are. Most of this is probably because women are more likely to be employed: after all, women may be in some of the jobs that men used to have. With greater female employment, the burden of being the breadwinner is off the backs of heterosexual men, which is only a net gain. So the decreasing employment of men may not be as bad as it seems.
However, much more distressing is the trend line during the most recent recession. At the beginning of the recession 69.4% of men were employed; by the end of the “official” recession, 64.6% of men were employed. At the beginning of the recession, 56.5% of women were employed; by the end of the “official” recession, 54.5% of women were. In short, 4.8% of men became non-employed over the course of the recession, compared to only 2% of women.
Men literally lost more than twice as many jobs as women did. Not only that, but men are more likely to kill themselves when unemployed than women are: the masculine gender role means that unemployment has disproportionately bad psychological effects on men.
Why did men lose so many jobs? Men tend to concentrate in occupations that are highly sensitive to the business cycle, such as manufacturing. Women tend to concentrate in occupations like education and health care– and there will always be sick people to be cured and children to be educated, regardless of the economy, making them essentially recession-proof. In addition, construction, a very male-dominated career, was highly affected by the housing crisis, which caused a significant decrease. Finally, the gender wage gap means men are concentrated in higher-earning jobs that are among the most tempting for layoffs.
What about since the recession officially ended, almost three years ago? (Seriously? 2009? The recession ended in 2009? Sure, whatever, Federal Reserve.) Since then, men have essentially remained stagnant around 64% employment, while women’s employment has decreased to 52.9%; an additional 1.6% of women were unemployed. So now instead of losing more than twice as many jobs men have lost 1.33 times as many! Progress!
Some of this reflects budget cuts– government workers are mostly female. In addition, some evidence suggests that during the recovery men tended to move into historically female-dominated professions, such as education and health care; maybe the recession will be the impetus we need to end the gender-based occupational segregation.