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The End of the Man-Cession


With men accounting for three-quarters of recent layoffs, there's been some talk of a "Man-cession." Christopher Swann of Reuters has a great column explaining the phenomenon:

[R]ecessions are almost always man-cessions. In 2001, the most recent downturn, women accounted for just 14 percent of job losses, U.S. government figures show. The picture was even clearer in the recession of the early 1990s. Of the 1.2 million positions that disappeared, females accounted for just 22,000 — slightly less than 2 percent.

Nor can this be explained by the fact that there were fewer women working. Even in the early 1990s women accounted for 47 percent of the workforce.

The reason that men are more sensitive — to recessions at least — is that they are overrepresented in highly cyclical sectors. Nine out of 10 workers in construction, and seven out of 10 in manufacturing, are male. These sectors generally take the biggest tumble when the economy declines. Women, meanwhile, dominate the most cosseted portions of the economy: healthcare, education and government.

As his numbers show, this recession is actually less male-focused than recent recessions. That's probably a function of greater diversity across job sectors: Vulnerable professions are no longer as overwhelmingly male, and "cosseted" professions are less overwhelmingly female. As what was once "man's work" becomes everybody's work, the "man-cessions" of yesteryear give way to recessions that hit workers more equally. Except for children. Those little twerps just sit around in their unionized classrooms, looking so intolerably smug ...

By Ezra Klein  |  October 8, 2009; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  Economy  
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Also, women get paid less, so between a man and a woman doing a similar job, the one who is paid more (even if unfairly) who is going to get the axe.

Posted by: HerooftheBeach | October 8, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

There's another explanation as well: this recession has gone well beyond the cyclical sectors and into the meat of the economy. Once you've got roughly a quarter of the usual labor force unemployed, underemployed or just plain given up, you're bound to hit more diversity because you run out of gender-segregated sectors.

Posted by: paul314 | October 8, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

This recession hit state governments very hard. That would mean unemployment in government, education, and healthcare.

Posted by: zosima | October 8, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

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