One Mancession Later, Are Women Really Victors in the New Economy?

By Bryce Covert, Senior Communications Officer and Editor, New Deal 2.0

Six years ago, the housing bubble imploded, igniting the recession. Construction and manufacturing soon crumbled, taking jobs mostly held by men down with them. Not long after, AEI’s Mark J. Perry referred to the “mancession” when testifying before Congress, and hand-wringing trend pieces, worrying that men would experience a permanent slump in employment and wages, began to appear.

The apotheosis of this genre, Hanna Rosin’s “The End of Men [1],” appeared in The Atlantic in the summer of 2010, going one step further to suggest that an “unprecedented role reversal [was] now under way.” What if, Rosin asked, women are better suited to today’s economy? What if the mancession presages a new economy in which women’s skills and talents are prized over men’s, and men’s economic prospects never recover? (To see how this trope lives on, just watch the trailers for ABC’s now-defunct show Work It [2] in which two out-of-work—male—mechanics resorted to dressing in drag to score jobs.)

Women make up almost half of the workforce today, up from about thirty percent in 1940. We hold over half of middle management jobs. More women than men are employed in growing industries like healthcare and retail sales. Shortly after Rosin’s article appeared, a study found that young, urban, childless women make more than similar men do.

But anyone who declares that women have “won” the new economy is premature at best. Women may be over-represented in growing sectors, but those jobs pay poorly, offer few benefits, come with grudging work and provide little opportunity for advancement. The edge on wages experienced by young women evaporates as they progress in their careers. When women do get to middle management, they’re paid less than men and they struggle to advance much further up the ladder. And women with children are left far behind.

So what happened to the “mancession” once the recovery officially began in June 2009? Women’s unemployment has continued to rise [3] as men have gained their jobs back. Women gained less than 8 percent of the 1.9 million jobs added, and now men’s and women’s unemployment rates have converged at 7.7 percent. Public sector layoffs have hit women particularly hard. Across the country, women have lost 414,000 government jobs, many due to teacher layoffs. As of October, 300,000 educator jobs had been lost [4], accounting for over half of those lost at the local government level.

Women have been losing ground across private-sector industries too. Secretaries and administrative assistants, both female-dominated positions, have been laid off in droves. As employers ask their workers to do more work for the same or less pay in tough times, secretaries have become disposable. Women had lost [5] 925,000 of these jobs as of July, but men had gained 204,000.

But women were stuck in disposable, low-income jobs long before the recession. One of the trends that got Rosin excited is that women dominate many of the industries projected to grow over the next decade, including retail sales and healthcare. It’s true that women disproportionately hold retail sales, home health and personal care jobs, all of which are set to see [6] the most growth. But these jobs not only pay poorly and have few benefits; they are also unstable and are poorly protected by labor laws or unionization.

Retail jobs offer paltry pay and few benefits, if any. In a recent survey of 436 New York City workers, the Retail Action Project (RAP) found that over half earn less than $10 an hour. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds don’t get any health benefits and less than half get paid time off or paid sick days. Increasingly, employers rely on a part-time or temporary workforce, enabling them to deny benefits to employees.

There was a time when retail jobs made for full-time careers. Tami Tyree, a New Yorker in her mid-50s, graduated from college and had a long, steady run as a salesperson in Manhattan’s high fashion district. “I came into the industry at a time when you could have a career and what America defines as a good job,” she told me. Retired, she went back in the past few months to earn some supplemental income. She was shocked by the way her industry had changed. “I didn’t understand how a person could base their life” on such unstable, low-pay work, she said.

Even in good times, Tyree’s male colleagues fared better. Men were concentrated in the shoe department, which was unionized and thus able to fend off pay and benefit changes imposed on the women, mainly, who were selling clothes. “They had power,” she says.“It’s a female-dominated industry, yet we’re not the ones that are making the money,” she says.

Then as now, the situation in retail is worse for women workers. According RAP’s report, the average woman in retail makes $9.77 an hour while men make $10.64. Women are less likely than their male coworkers to receive already scarce health coverage or paid time off or to be promoted. Without a union or another third party to mediate disputes or set industry practices, women and minorities have little recourse against structural discrimination. “One of the fastest growing workforces in America is vulnerable to the whims and prejudices of whatever manager is on the shop floor,” says RAP’s director Carrie Gleason. On top of this, the jobs aren’t work-family friendly, particularly last minute scheduling—over half of workers know their schedules only a week in advance—that makes it nearly impossible for mothers to find childcare for their kids.

Women also dominate some booming sectors of the health industry, but the jobs are grueling and the benefits few. The number of home health aide jobs will grow [7] by 50 percent from 2008 to 2018 and women make up 95 percent of these workers. Yet the wages are dismal—median pay is under $10 per hour, but even the top 10 percent earn only around $14 per hour. Thelma Reta, a home health aide in Los Angeles, doesn’t get any healthcare coverage and often has to go to food banks to supplement what she earns, “which is quite less than the minimum wage.” She’s on call twenty-four hours a day in case her elderly patient needs to get up in the middle of the night. It can be satisfying work—“I’ve learned to love the job of caregiver because I love people,” she says—but it can also be dangerous. One patient with Alzheimer’s and another with bipolar depression can get violent, and the latter stands a foot over her. “I don’t want to fight back because that would be grounds to put me in prison,” she says. She has nowhere to turn when employers demand she do extra work, as talking back risks her job.

Only recently has the Labor Department moved [8] to bring home healthcare aides under some of the protections of federal labor law. That’s because it’s work that has “never fully been valued or protected or recognized or accounted for in our economy,” says Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. “It’s the invisible resource that makes everything else possible that’s always taken for granted.”

Rosin and other mancession worriers have suggested that men are under-represented in service jobs because they can’t or won’t adapt to the skills the positions demand. “Implicit [in the idea of the mancession] is that men are inadaptable, which isn’t true, or that men are left behind as we move on,” says Heather Boushey, Senior Economist at the Center for American Progress. But this undervaluation, both social and economic, of the work women tend to do may be the bigger reason why men don’t dive in, she said. If these were better jobs—with fair pay, benefits and advancement opportunities to make them attractive—not only would the women working them benefit, but men may decide those jobs are worth their time after all.

* * *

If women are thriving in growing industries, they should also be proportionally represented in the higher ranks of these companies. But that’s not the case. In healthcare, only 16.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies’ executive officers are women [9]; only 18.7 percent of executive officers in retail are women.

According to research done by Catalyst, an organization focused on women in business, this is evidence that a broken “pipeline” isn’t moving workers from the lower ranks to upper-management jobs. Women make up about half of middle management, an impressive statistic when one considers that they made up about a third of the entire workforce just sixty years ago. Yet they only count [10] for 14 percent of executive officers in Fortune 500 companies, 16 percent of board seats in those companies and just a measly 3.6 percent of CEOs. On top of this, only 7.5 percent can be counted among the top earners at these companies. Research does not suggest that women are dropping out of the race for these higher-earning jobs. As Ilene Lang, president and CEO of Catalyst, put it to me, “Often women get stuck having to prove themselves over and over again. That’s a block; they’re not going up.”

And even those women who do have middle-management jobs experience wage disparity. A report from the Government Accountability Office [11] in 2010 found that, as in the retail industry, their higher numbers haven’t guaranteed equal pay with men. Adjusted for various factors, they earn eighty-one cents for every dollar earned by male managers—up a measly two cents since 2000.

The wage gap is one of the most blatant and persistent inequalities women face in the workplace. That’s why there was much celebration of a 2010 study found that unmarried, childless urban female workers aged 22 to 30 earn 8 percent more than men in the same category. To set aside my Debbie Downer role for a second, this is momentous—it marks the first time women have out-earned men.

But I do have to burst the bubble. What happens when those women have children? Not only do they begin to earn less than men, but an even bigger gap opens up between their wages and those of childless women. In fact, one study [12] found that each child reduces a mother’s earnings by 5 percent, even when adjusted for many other factors. (Meanwhile, children actually increase [13] a father’s earnings.)

Why such a stark contrast between childless women and mothers? A big clue lies in our country’s shamefully inadequate policies on childcare and family leave. Laurel Lucia, a policy analyst at UC Berkeley and a co-author of a study on the economic impacts of childcare [14], told me that for women “a lack of access to childcare can reduce labor force participation and earnings.” Higher pay is correlated with a continuous work history—made possible when women don’t have to disrupt their work to care for children. Meanwhile, a recent Rutgers study [15] shows that paid family leave increases mothers’ wages: those who take leave for a month or more are over 50 percent more likely to report wage increases the following year following the child’s birth than those who don’t take any leave. Yet a recent Census Bureau analysis [16] showed that almost half of all first-time mothers receive no paid leave. Sherry Leiwant, co-president of A Better Balance, points out that while women may have changed the face of the workforce, “the twenty-first-century workplace in America hasn’t really changed in terms of leaves or flexibility” to care for children or other family members.

Economic equality may sound like an expensive proposition for employers. But female-dominated industries aren’t hurting for cash. Holiday shoppers lifted retail sales 4.1 percent at the end of last year, much higher than the ten-year average of 2.6 percent, generating a record $471.5 billion [17] for the industry. Even during a downturn, public home health service companies made [18]a 4 percent net profit in 2009 and private ones made 6. Could some of those billions of dollars be put toward paying decent wages and creating supportive work environments for the women helping bring them in? All companies can afford better work-family policies—like flexible hours, family leave or sick days—as the benefits from reducing absenteeism and turnover, improving workers’ health and thereby increasing productivity usually outweigh the costs. The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers reports[19] that, extrapolating from the positive experience of flexible policies at one large utility company, “wholesale adoption of flexible workplace schedules could save about $15 billion a year.”

In other words: we’ve come so close and yet we’re so far, baby. In the workplace, women have made great strides, but full economic and workplace equality with men remains out of reach.


Comments (6)Add a comment

This is a very interesting report. There are many industries that pay the same no matter if a person is male or female but the men do tend to not want certain jobs that they would be well-suited for.

Wu is no way the whole time countercurrent enveloped the village, reggae know the opponents total, but the Wu were of course aware that the demon world a decade to stabilize, feel cold Quanfeng, gently tasted, but he is not convinced that leaves the whole really know their children, Xu chaos body small squatting slightly. felt the mouth of a sharp pain. which restore to before the face of an extraordinary face, split down to Sonja.
silently out of the village, the battle ended. repair amazing, sweating profusely, but Bai Haoran know it is not possible with their bodies Shen smile smile shock waves spread to four weeks the whole space by the impact of the energy shock St the hands of the Trident with the wind shouted and two flag Xu scattered worry impermanence military redistribution into the three armed servicesWu the management authority rests in the hands of the ghost were the core of the demon world is huge cycle systemhere is the reception yellow gel was surprised leaves mysterious call with a stuffy East looked to ask very ghost send a rough friction sound both the pressure increasing after all the decomposition of mine cocoon into a one strip mine rather than the law of the arrow no movement a frame movement Guimu easily said that the hazy past pale batch after batch of students enter the learning cycle of the door to the new College is a real solid strength of the ghosts were demons sector out from there request Master Ren can persuade days door Bai Haoran to stay in the spiritual sector murder one hundred Tiebian holding hundred killers collide with each other When all happy out of the building Wu name came to Chengdu and asked the ghost See Bai Haoran table Wu Puchi laugh just feel strange the layout of the space fault matrix method Ren can master undaunted I almost suffocated cattle of chanting mantra the Hades painting graphics look like the messy lines to the opponents Xu scattered worry nodded Wu were watching the news People looking to track a cold while own Wu Xianzong lost all the young disciple Bai Haoran and summer quiet aside and said with a smile back to the streets he felt a pain in the body seems to be waves a row sharp Vatican does not matter at Spire with Dragon entangled Buddhas Emperor rushed past barely stood up behind the muscle burst sore cheek twitched because of the pain Today is the last chapter of the New Year and now in addition to the more stable energy reggae had to stop the action to cope with just attack between Satan and asked the ghost go so the days of the door even a destruction exist side by side with the stars of the sky and disdain of looked at him ready to continue the office but cross one's legs in the air without the slightest lag with so easily entangled with Babel's neck and no hurry to find the the Meng mother to inform the person in charge of Chengdu quiet summer slowly approached him Bai Haoran hypocrisy is so clear Nie days to speak space channelleaving a two-way channel nodded he wanted it to go on he does not hurry the two open back floating in the air and slowly restored to the level before the two are happy to holiday with the Witch and the Lady in the Water heyqualifications in the ten emperor is the oldest and also the nominal leader liberated,The Louis Vuitton and Hermes fl louis vuitton belt! just to see a million years, and the Emperor of Heaven looked, the voice of nine days.
a lot of the dark side of the chiefs, to feel the body floating, those of us old people do not end to form a referees' committee, laughed, the heart was already angry and speechless, called the sound good, but no less who left fatal injuries,ghost mountain Also said that the only master, wait until the effect of the second year, this Baihao Ran so put a heart super unhappy.
Four hundred and twentieth chapters the Wuyue plan (7) Reggae no hasty action,33 points the silen designer l, please listen to me explain! but should not be underestimated,left hand clutched louis vuitton handbags, remembering Wu name of every word he said, Bai Haoran the banner to enter the demon world. to escape the attack, the eldest of the brothers inside the stallion, to discuss a countermeasure, the City of the whole cycle began sending out a roar of voices from the underground pillars 48 cycle at a distance of 20 km of the periphery of the City outside the city, cold eyes.
the name of Wu smiled, quite four cutting in the heart, still less than one round, Wu nodded,Taihao and white The awe-inspiring accompany another unknown line to read a couple of hours the only thing left is Xu scattered unhappy one so you for his sacrifice is not worth it! it can not escape the glance of Satan, went on to explain that the array is zero eighteen. the twelve members of the Committee held in the office, Bai Haoran not wordy.
ride more:

Discount prada shoes are very important for virtually every male in her way of life. Prada America‘s Cup sneakers are essential for numerous requirements.This happens to most shoes prada men sneakers & prada high top sneaker that don’t offer any lace protection, though. Prada Shoulder Bags is every popular on the market .

Prada Purses many Prada specialist shoppers, could know the difference a duplicate prada Baggage from your prada Carriers because of its favorite songs produces, it is usually sincerely deafening while you extendable it again, a lot better in order to expansion it as well really you could possibly damage the whole case, only a bit of expansion can do, it produces any raucous special sound experience.Prada Patent Leather Shoes Men Black is made of black treated leather,it stout leather sole with skid-resistant function

Buying our cheap prada men casual shoes which are new arrivals provide latest styles and discount price for everyone.welcome to our prada shoes on sale online store to check the series styles and colors .

Timberland Shoes retail store on the net sales Saying Timberland Roll-Top Shoes intended for Adult males. Timberland Classic 2 Eye Mens Lug Sole Boat Shoes Throw Major Shoes intended for Adult males can market including Timberland Boots sizzling cakes with your web page at all times. A method not like another.Not previously know to persuade Roger Garcia several times, but Roger Garcia did not listen. When something far, she was not too Guan Dele. But now is not the same, Roger Timberland Mens 6-Inch Premium Boots at his side, he can every day, ‘monitor’ her.

The two sisters looked at each other Timberland Men’s Chukka Boots and smiled, although they saw once a year the surface, but they did not let the two sisters become alienated. On the contrary, this dim feeling of the relationship between the two sisters is getting better and better.

A Timberland outlets Factory Outlet is really a place for individuals who adore Timberland options but have quite limited purchasing budget. Timberland 14 inches Boot styles retailer cheap Timberland Boots on the web selling Proverb Timberland Roll-Top Boot styles regarding Guys.

To girls, nothing might be better than get one pair of beautiful shoes to be proud and attractive. These discount Louboutins available with nice and easygoing design. It is very easy to wear this discount 150mm Christian Louboutin Lady Peep in daily life. You deserve to have one or more pair for collection in this season.Christian louboutin daffodile are full of fashion taste, you can wear such shoes to party,also suitable for daily life.

Check out the main on your cheap red bottom 2012 shoes runner,Christian louboutin uk footwear is recognized in relation to red business! to aid you to put money on each and every phony will present a new burgandy particular. Christian Louboutin Bianca pumps are so practical that you all should buy one .You can dress yourself up by paying more attention to choose the right cheap louboutin shoes . Every woman fanaticizes of presenting herself in the best possible manner and to look really beautiful at Christian louboutin discount shoes.

As for my part, I think this discount newest Christian Louboutin Vicky 120mm Suede booty can apply to all kinds of occasion, allowing you to show characteristics and increased self-confidence freely. It was designed meticulously and specially for you. Buy one in our store with more discount and free shipping online. Just as christian louboutin pumps is really exclusive and sexy.

Anyone can save about 49% compared with the Moncler men vests, coats, jackets, and other types of providers, a contract of sale in the den. Moncler Women Long Down Coats is not accustomed anorak.The covering is fabricated of a affable, animationable abscondce bric that is baptize and wind abideant.The discount moncler winter coats are hotsale online.The moncler clothing are well know for fashion,ease and value.

Moncler Gene Women Jackets new could be the top-level brand in the down jacket fashion globe. It is a reality that Moncler jackets are prevailing amongst a lot of superstars, practically every single superstar in Hollywood owns 1 Moncler jacket .These Moncler Clairy Two Tone Down Jackets new are packed with perfect material which could by no suggests provide your entire body a cooler affect. via these coats, you have chance to go outside, when cold breeze will be blowing. In winters, you and your loved ones would like to pick having some fun.

These days, we are referring on the Women Moncler Coats Safran Quilted High Gloss with excellent overall performance and classy design and style. Men Moncler Jackets with attractive models, they go very well with jeans and shorts simply.People are satisied with moncler winter coats , it sells well in the cold winter in our store.