Fewer than 5% of new jobs went to women in the last year

Here’s a nice cherry-topper to the news that woman still make 75% of men’s wages. At the New York Times, feminist economist Nancy Folbre analyzes new job growth data released by the National Women’s Law Center, suggesting that the “mancession” may soon have a new name. In short, women have filled fewer than 1 in 10 new positions since a pickup in job growth since 2010 — more accurately, fewer than 5%.

A huge factor in this disparity is that 7 in 10 men lost their jobs from the recession — but if 30% of that population were women, there’s still a pretty decent gap here that’s well worth looking at. Folbre connects this to the fact that women are more concentrated in state and local jobs that are in danger of getting cut:

[W]omen are more concentrated in state and local jobs that are now on the chopping block as a result of efforts to cut taxes and reduce public spending. About 52 percent of state employees and 61 percent of the much larger category of local employees are women – many of them working as teachers, secretaries, or social workers.

Women make up a majority of two important public sector unions, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and the American Federation of Teachers.

The economist Randy Albelda asserts that the conservative attack on public-sector unions resembles the welfare reform discussions of the 1990s, in which recipients of public assistance were labeled greedy, lazy welfare queens.

Bryce Covert at The Nation has much more on this, making it even more clear that we need to look more closely at the gender impact of public budgets. It just pains me (though not surprisingly) that when conservatives do turn their attention away from taking away women’s bodily autonomy and actually pay attention to the economy, it’s on taking away women’s work opportunities — as directly or indirectly as you’d like to see it.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted March 7, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    This is definitely concerning, since it would be great if everybody’s unemployment rates were dropping. However, absolute unemployment rates for men, if you read the linked article, are still higher for men than for women:

    “Between January and February, unemployment rose slightly among women (to 8 percent from 7.9 percent) even as it declined slightly among men (to 8.7 percent from 8.8 percent).”

    The trend is definitely alarming, but as long as more men are still unemployed than women, it doesn’t seem appropriate to start calling this a “womancession.” At nearly double digit unemployment, both genders are feeling the squeeze.

  2. Posted March 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    The title of this post, and the quote “In short, women have filled fewer than 1 in 10 new positions since a pickup in job growth since 2010 — more accurately, fewer than 5%.” is misleading and probably incorrect.

    The correct statistic, if instead of reading summaries of summaries, we actually go look at the data source (http://bls.gov/ces/cesbtabs.htm), is:

    In January 2010 there were 64,613,000 women employed. In February 2011 there were 64,726,000. In January 2010 there were 129,281,000 total employees. In February 2011 there were 130,515,000.

    So, then, there were (130,515,000 – 129,291,000) new jobs, and (64,726,000 – 64,613,000) of them went to women, for a total of about 9% of new jobs going to women, right?

    No, wrong. That is true if and only if we assume that nobody lost a job over the time period in question. Suppose instead, purely for the sake of this hypothetical, we assume a national turnover rate of about 20%, which I believe is a reasonable rough estimate (http://www.nobscot.com/survey/index.cfm). Let’s also assume (again hypothetically) that this turnover rate was equally distributed: that a female employee was equally likely to lose her job as a male employee was to lose his.

    Then the number of new jobs is (130,515,000 – 129,291,000 + 0.20 * 130,515,000). The number of new jobs taken by women is (64,726,000 – 64,613,000 + 0.20 * 64,726,000). (0.20 * 130,515,000 people lost a job and gained a new one; 0.20 * 64,726,000 women did likewise.)

    That puts the percentage of new jobs taken by women at (64,726,000 – 64,613,000 + 0.20 * 64,726,000)/ (130,515,000 – 129,291,000 + 0.20 * 130,515,000) = 47%.

    Sometimes when a number seems too outrageous to be true, that’s because it is.

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