Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day; Welcome The "Lipstick Economy" And Major Jobless Rate and Degree Gaps

As the top chart above shows, the male-female jobless rate gap of 2.5% is truly unprecedented. During and following the last two recessions of 1990-1991 and 2001, the male unemployment rate was about 1% higher than the female unemployment rate. But there has never been any recession in U.S. history, or any time during even a non-recessionary period, when the male unemployment rate was this much (2.5%) higher than the female jobless rate.

As the bottom chart above shows, 1981 was the last year that men received more college degrees than women, and the female-male "degree gap" has increased in every year since, and is projected by the Department of Education to increase further through 2017 when women will receive 158 college degrees (at all levels) for every 100 degrees received by men.

On this Father's Day, we should maybe recognize that we are witnessing what might possibly be a permanent structural change in the labor market and higher education, which will have profound and lasting implications for family roles, career choices, divorce settlements and child custody decisions by family courts, public policy, etc.

For example, just thinking out loud here, would it be possible in the future that a college-educated, professional woman working full-time would pay alimony to her unemployed ex-husband who hasn't found employment since the Great Mancession of 2008, and he might also get primary custody of the children and be paid child support?


At 6/21/2009 9:05 PM, Anonymous Jim Egnor said...

I'm curious as to this blog's interest in the issue of male/female statistics as to jobs, college graduates, etc.

Apart from the real estate market/sector home sales...a fair amount of articles focus upon this one issue.

Are you saying that it is not a "good thing" for women to advance in terms of earning capabilities and education?

Or have I missed something and/or not followed this blog long enough??

At 6/21/2009 10:02 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Thank you for at least throwing some sort of point to this research.

Perhaps the thing might be to consider the "cannot require degree or fund all citizens to a base degree level w/o additional requirements in a job" approach. Neutralize the effect of the degree, then it won't matter who's earning the degree.

At 6/21/2009 10:05 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

I'm curious as to this blog's interest in the issue of male/female statistics as to jobs, college graduates, etc.

I've asked the same question myself. At least there's some application he may be hinting at in this case.

Perhaps he wants to know who is losing out job searches and perhaps a way to solve those losses.

At 6/21/2009 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we help you find a job, sethstorm?

At 6/22/2009 6:47 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Anonymous 11:35:
It'd be hard to check your background as anonymous.

There's not much around.

At 6/22/2009 7:38 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

There's not much around.

As for what's available in the area in my profession, there's not much around.

At 6/22/2009 8:43 AM, Anonymous iamnorth said...

An alternate explanation could be that males are now targeting careers that women have no interest or capability to perform, such as construction -- which does not require a four year college degree, yet can (and do) pay more than white collar jobs.

I offer personal anecdotal evidence. I possess a graduate degree from Carnegie Mellon University, from GSIA (now Tepper School of Business). While I remain in my white collar job at a global firm enjoying a respectable six-figure salary, I have witnessed a general decline in annual salaries in the field of accounting and finance and also IT. However, friends of mine in construction (electricians, roofers, plumbers, landscapers, tree-cutters, etc) all seem to be busier than ever and are earning annual salaries higher than me (and also more than my employees). The father of one of my employees owns a small construction company; they live in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area.

Having worked construction during college I decided three years ago to start working an occasional evening and weekend to earn a little extra $$ doing light construction (i.e., "handyman services"). The extra $$ was directly used to pay down debt (mortgage, car payment, and student loans).

Working 10 - 20 hours per week and doing said "light construction" for which I advertise on Craigslist or get customers via the "word of mouth" channel, I am earning nearly 40% of my annual white collar management position and at a higher hourly rate (yes, including benefits and 401k match).

My buddy who is a certified electrician, for example, does not possess a college degree yet he is so busy that his prices have increased due to such high demand for his services. He worked approximately 22 hours this weekend on a residential job and was paid $3,100. That's more than I made in a 50-hour workweek in my white collar job and about what I make in two weeks (in cash) performing handyman services.

There is little to no pressure on independent contractors (shops with fewer than 8 employees) to meet legislated hiring and employee minority requirements and I have yet to encounter a woman in that field, other than the mandatory government-controlled road construction companies who hire women to hold the stop/yield signs while the men are operating jackhammers and heavy equipment.

Another nice feature of the construction trade is the opportunity to conduct cash transactions. $225 to replaced a window is typically paid in cash and is work I can perform in a couple of hours on a weekday evening. Construction workers can more easily live off the grid than white collar workers subject to the regulatory whims of the man.

Students recently graduating from college are having a very difficult time finding jobs. Not true in the construction field.

Lipstick economy? I disagree. Lipstick jobs in which men choose to not participate? Definitely worth further investigation.

At 6/22/2009 9:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look who gets an honorable mention over at the Weekly Standard:

A "man-cession." That's what some economists are starting to call it. Of the 5.7 million jobs Americans lost between December 2007 and May 2009, nearly 80 percent had been held by men. Mark Perry, an economist at the University of Michigan, characterizes the recession as a "downturn" for women but a "catastrophe" for men.

Men are bearing the brunt of the current economic crisis because they predominate in manufacturing and construction, the hardest-hit sectors, which have lost more than 3 million jobs since December 2007. Women, by contrast, are a majority in recession-resistant fields such as education and health care, which gained 588,000 jobs during the same period. Rescuing hundreds of thousands of unemployed crane operators, welders, production line managers, and machine setters was never going to be easy. But the concerted opposition of several powerful women's groups has made it all but impossible. Consider what just happened with the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Last November, President-elect Obama addressed the devastation in the construction and manufacturing industries by proposing an ambitious New Deal-like program to rebuild the nation's infrastructure. He called for a two-year "shovel ready" stimulus program to modernize roads, bridges, schools, electrical grids, public transportation, and dams and made reinvigorating the hardest-hit sectors of the economy the goal of the legislation that would become the recovery act.

Women's groups were appalled. Grids? Dams? Opinion pieces immediately appeared in major newspapers with titles like "Where are the New Jobs for Women?" and "The Macho Stimulus Plan." A group of "notable feminist economists" circulated a petition that quickly garnered more than 600 signatures, calling on the president-elect to add projects in health, child care, education, and social services and to "institute apprenticeships" to train women for "at least one third" of the infrastructure jobs.

The Weekly Standard

At 6/22/2009 11:19 AM, Blogger Rick Caird said...

SethStorm needs to read and listen. The point of the unemployment statistics by gender is at least two fold. One, it shoots down the whole comparable worth idea which continues to raise its ugly head. How do you develop comparable worth without taking into account unemployment risk (as well as other risks).

Second, the statistics show the paucity of the "not so much stimulus" program. There was no targeting on the areas where there is the most unemployment. Michael Barone, today, commented on Obama and one of the area he highlighted was Obama's willingness to out source his signature legislation. We can see that in the stimulus, enerty, and medical bills. But, even after that outsourcing, Obama will be held responsible for the results. That he would abandon the shaping of those pieces of legislation, points to the very weak character of out President. Once we get beyond making he speeches, he is useless.


At 6/22/2009 1:07 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Christina Hoff Sommers?

I loved the sub-headline: How feminist groups skewed the Obama stimulus plan towards women's jobs

At 6/24/2009 10:18 AM, Anonymous Junkyard_Hawg1985 said...


As always, an excellent set of charts. Part of the chart showing the % of degrees obtained goes back to the IQ bell curve. As Larry Summers once pointed out, the average IQ of men and women is the same, but men have a higher standard deviation. As a result of this phenomenon, the top quintile and the bottom quintile of IQ's both contain more men. The flip side of this observation is that the middle quintile will have a disproportionately high number of women. This is important in understanding the chart.

In 1980, 50.9% of high school graduates went to college. In theory, you would be taking the brightest 50% of students and giving them more education. Since the average IQ of men and women are the same, you would be sending the same number of women and men to college. This matches the college graduation rate in 1981 when 50% of degrees were given to women and 50% to men.

Fast forward to 2006. In 2006, 62% of high school graduates were college bound. Because the fraction of women in the 50-62% percentile would be higher than that for men, I would expect the number of degrees given to women over this time period to exceed that for men. While this does not explain the full size of the change in college degrees, it would certainly explain a decent portion of the change over the long period shown in the plot.


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