By most accounts the economic recovery has, at best, been sluggish, but even so it has been a better recovery for men than women. That’s according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.
According to the report, from the end of the recession in June 2009 through May 2011, men gained 768,000 jobs and lowered their unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points to 9.5%. Women, on the other hand, lost 218,000 jobs during the same period, increasing their unemployment rate by 0.2 percentage points to 8.5%.
These changes represent a dramatic turnaround from what had been described as a “he-cession” where men had lost more than twice as many jobs as women.
In the 16 major sectors of the economy identified in the report men gained ground over women in all but one. The only exception to the job data is in the area of state government where women added jobs during the recovery while men lost them.
According to the Pew Report, the Great Recession has defied historical gender norms in terms of labor and economic participation. Women fared better then men in the first two years of all other economic recoveries since 1970. The historical data is significant because it coincides with an era where women have, generally, gained jobs at a faster rate then men.
There is no clear answer why women are on the brunt end of the recovery. What the Pew Report does show is that men are making stronger advances across the economic spectrum than women. For example, women lost a total of 433,000 jobs in manufacturing, retail trade and finance during the recovery.
When these kinds of numbers show up, and in light of the attitude embraced by our corporate sector and enshrined in law via decisions like WalMart v. Dukes, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that insidious discriminatory impulses are again driving hiring, pay and promotion practices.