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Recession Has Severe Impact on Working Mothers

Recession Has Severe Impact on Working Mothers

Last fall, there were a lot of joyous statistics floating around, because the recession seemed to have at least one silver lining: women were almost half the workforce, suggesting that the glass ceiling may be finally cracking open.  Lisa Belkin was quick to point out the flaw in this logic, though; she noted that the reason that women are retaining their jobs is because they tend to hold lower-paying jobs, while the men, who are compensated better, lose theirs. 

A few months ago, I wrote about some disturbing statistics that, sadly, seemed to prove Belkin right: the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the unemployment rate for single women “who maintain families” at 11.6 percent — 68 percent higher than when the recession began. “Add to that the fact that women, as a whole, earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man brings home,” J. Goodrich on Alternet wrote, “and you find many single women whose situation has gone from difficult to dire.”

Now, yet another report shows that women are being hit harder by the recession.  This time, though, instead of single mothers, the demographic is working mothers.  The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee reported that mothers, rather than opting out, actually increased their workforce participation during the recession.  Ihe report, titled “Understanding the Economy: Working Mothers in the Great Recession,” first showed that the gains that women seemed to be making the job market were turning backwards.  Slowing job losses in the final months of 2009 meant that more men were finding employment, while women continued to lose their jobs.  This was problematic, because one-third of working mothers were the sole job-holders in their families, so while some husbands and fathers may have been finding employment, the fact that women continued to lose their jobs must have translated into harder times for many families.

Single mothers, as always, were hit hardest – between 2007 and 2009, the unemployment rate of single mothers increased from 8.0 percent to 13.6 percent.  And high numbers of mothers were unable to find employment because of the job market, with 3.3 million women working part-time for economic reasons, many of whom indicated that they would like to work full-time if they could find employment.  Page Gardner has an insightful post on single mothers, where she writes, “Fact is the number of unmarried women and women-headed households is on the rise — and the children they are raising are doing without basics: food, heath care, and housing.”

The implications of this report are clear: families are relying more and more heavily on mothers to carry a large part of the financial burden, but women are still being underpaid, and may have trouble being hired.  They are also more vulnerable to losing their jobs when men start gaining employment again.  As always, this isn’t just a “women’s issue,” it’s a family issue.  And it also effectively cancels out any productive discussion about the so-called “opt out revolution”; most women clearly can’t afford to opt out.  The government now has even more of an obligation to improve conditions for working mothers (childcare, maternity leave, etc), and to make sure that the wage gap is closing.  It’s difficult to come up with a more basic or compelling argument: adequate compensation for women will be good for all American families.

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12:39AM PDT on Jun 23, 2010


12:57AM PDT on May 20, 2010

It is so tough everywhere... I hope to be part of the solution. you have asked for help getting into a business, I may have an answer, but you have to ask for it at my care2 box.

8:14AM PDT on May 18, 2010

Cheryl, I don't think hostility helps, and if I was unkind, I apologize. Ever since I started reading your posts, I am reminded of a beautiful song. I wanted to share it with you, out of friendship. I am not gay, though I have no problem with those that are as long as I am not the object of their affection. The song is called "The Dance" and it is performed by Garth Brooks. The youtube videos of his performances are restricted for some legality, but the performance by Tony Arata is pretty good. I hope you enjoy it.

12:30AM PDT on May 17, 2010

Maybe if you'd stop "floating around the surface of life" and actually get your feet wet, you'd understand that your words were, at the least, judgemental and unkind. Noone likes to be judged. Please, if you feel misunderstood, cool, but stop whining about people putting words in your mouth you didn't say when you didn't bother to clarify. Please also stop whining about people (me) trying to "put you in your place" when opposing feelings are brought up. You sound like an entitled victim. Neither of which is true, because you are obviously smart and strong to do what you did.

12:13AM PDT on May 17, 2010

Cheryl, I can't speak for others, but I think that if you were to poll them, you would find that most of us on the forum took your comments about a second job as a bit condescending. I believe that almost any one on this post would jump at a second job if one existed which did not drain every penny earned in taxes, child care costs, and gas costs. What you did last generation was entirely different from what these moms are facing today. You could show even the teeniest bit of compassion.

The only alternative I know of is for these moms to own a business that isn't going to scam them. I have knowledge of a good one available for the asking.

12:04AM PDT on May 17, 2010

How many people are taking action, outside this forum, to publicly change some of these issues?

11:54PM PDT on May 16, 2010


11:54PM PDT on May 16, 2010

Cheryl W, I don't understand. You tell those of us that are on aid that we need to stop relying on the government and start caring for ourselves, and then you complain when people who legitimately need it and deserve it bring that fact to your attention. Can you not understand that whether you intended to or not, you hurt and even offended some of us?

Your words made me feel you were judging me as being lazy by depending on the government. I am working with a great company and when I get my medical situation secure, I will be off the government rolls.

I didn't try to "put you in your place" but you didn't have to gripe about how we put words in your mouth that you didn't say. You made global, sweeping statements that affected all of us. Every person has to think about how what they say may hurt someone. I certainly only spoke from the heart, and never meant to offend you. I am very sorry if I did.

I think, though, that you have to make clear what you are talking about so this sort of confusion doesn't happen again (REGARDLESS of the forum question).

If you were in my situation, I really think you'd understand where I'm coming from. We don't all think alike, and unless you let us know, what are we supposed to do? We don't all work for 1-800-psychics...

Please, drop that chip on your shoulder. You told thousands of people to stop relying on the government to take care of their every need, w/o regards to why they do it. That's calling them lazy. That's b

11:20PM PDT on May 16, 2010

thanks for your contribution

6:12PM PDT on May 16, 2010

"Never try to teach a pig to sing. It is a waste of your time & annoys the pig."

Obviously, no matter what I say, you are determined to make it fit your scenario so have at it. I don't make a habit of bashing anyone on here. If your attempt to put me in my place makes you feel better today, then I am glad I could help.

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