The Great Recession hit men especially hard. But in the long, shaky recovery, they’re now outpacing women in finding employment. That’s surprising because in past recoveries, women have tended to get re-employed faster than men — making this another of the many ways in which this recovery is different.
According to a new Pew Research Center survey, men gained 768,000 jobs and lowered their unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points to 9.5% from June 2009 to May 2011. But women actually lost 218,000 jobs during the same period and increased their unemployment rate by 0.2 percentage points to 8.5%.
But not only are men outpacing women in finding jobs; they’re doing it in sectors that are historically female-dominated. According to Pew, employment trends have favored men in all but one of the 16 major sectors of the economy, including retail trade, education and health services.
In four of the six major recoveries since 1970, women have bounced back better than men. So what’s different this time? One factor appears to be simply that large numbers of men lost jobs in the recession — thus more men are looking for work and more are getting hired. It also appears that men have become more flexible about the kinds of jobs they’re willing to take. Men who were in more male-centered jobs like construction and manufacturing (which were really hurt by the recession) and who might never have considered working in something like retail or health care seem to be more willing than before.
But as the recovery (hopefully) intensifies – some good news came today, with 157,000 private sector jobs reportedly added in June — we’ll start to unravel more about this strange, long road to recovery. In the meantime, women can take solace in the fact they’re better at almost everything than men.