Friday, January 08, 2010

The Great Mancession: Is It Gradually Ending?

The charts above are based on today's BLS Employment Situation Report and provide updates on some of the "mancession" trends I have been following now for over a year. Despite a gloomy Huffington Post story today "1 in 5 Men Don't Have a Job, the "mancession" has actually started improving gradually by some measures.

In December, the jobless rate for men (16 years and over) fell by 0.2% to 11% from 11.2% in November (see chart above), following a 0.20% drop from 11.4% in October, and marking the first back-to-back monthly decreases in the male unemployment rate since consecutive declines in December 2005 and January 2006. Further, the male jobless rate has declined or stayed the same in four out of the last six months, and the December rate is 0.40% below the peak 11.4% in October.

In contrast, the female jobless rate increased in December to 8.8% from 8.6% in November, matching the peak rate of 8.8% in October.

Those opposite moves in December (lower male jobless rate and higher female rate) lowered the male -female jobless rate gap to 2.2% (11% - 8.8%), a full one-half percentage point below the historical record of 2.7% in August, and the lowest since the 2% gap in March. The recent downward trend in the male-female jobless rate gap is consistent with the post-recession periods following the last two recessions (see second chart above).

The chart below displays the monthly household employment levels for males and females, from January 2007 to December 2009, showing that of the 8.42 million job losses since December 2007, 68% have been male jobs and 32% female jobs. But in the last 9 months since April, the monthly job losses have been fairly evenly distributed by gender, compared to the 7-month period between September 2008 to March 2009 when male job losses were more than 90% of the total job losses in two months, and more than 80% of the total in four months, and averaged 82%.

Bottom Line: One feature of the Great Recession was the unprecedented and disparate burden on men, in terms of job losses and jobless rates, i.e. the "mancession." A new record gender jobless rate gap was set in August 2009 when the male unemployment rate of 11% exceeded the female rate of 8.3% by 2.7%, the largest gender gap in history (in either direction). But as the economy now re-enters a period of economic expansion and recovery, both the Great Recession and the Great Mancession are hopefully subsiding and ending...


At 1/08/2010 11:52 PM, Blogger bobble said...

i'm just wondering if the mancession was caused by men traditionally earning more than women. in the race to the bottom of the wage scale, women, being paid less, have an advantage.

At 1/09/2010 1:37 AM, Anonymous Fly Chick said...

Oh come on! Is the disparity between male and female unemployment greater than previous recessions?

Have you controlled for the labor force participation rates of women in prior recessions?

This is ridiculous. The most volatile of industries heavily employ men: construction, manufacturing, business services, and financial activities. Women select relatively secure jobs in government, education, and health care. That has always been true. There's nothing extraordinary about this recession.

The only disparity worth mentioning is that lower female wages are part of the reason they enjoy lower unemployment rates. This trade-off is hardly novel either. Labor economists have discussed this for decades.

At 1/09/2010 4:42 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

might this be influenced by more men dropping out of the workforce than women and driving their u3 (but not u6) down?

the most recent unemployment report was heavily influenced by people becoming "discouraged" and dropping out of the workforce. easy to see how drop outs could be focused in traditionally male industries like construction.

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- An exodus of discouraged workers from the job market kept the U.S. unemployment rate from climbing above 10 percent in December, economists said.

Had the labor force not decreased by 661,000 last month, the jobless rate would have been 10.4 percent, according to economists including David Rosenberg at Gluskin Sheff & Associates in Toronto and Harm Bandholz at UniCredit Research in New York.

“The actual unemployment rate is higher than shown by the official numbers,” Bandholz said yesterday after a Labor Department report released in Washington showed the economy unexpectedly lost 85,000 jobs in December while the jobless rate was unchanged.

About 1.7 million Americans opted out of the workforce from July through December, representing a 1.1 percent drop that marks the biggest six-month decrease since 1961, the Labor Department report showed. The share of the population in the labor force last month fell to the lowest level in 24 years.

December’s 10 percent unemployment rate matched the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. It was shy of the 26-year high of 10.1 percent reached two months earlier.

The so-called underemployment rate -- which includes part- time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and people who want work but have given up looking -- rose to 17.3 percent in December from 17.2 percent.

The number of discouraged workers, those not looking for work because they believe none is available, climbed to 929,000 last month, the most since records began in 1994.

At 1/10/2010 1:26 AM, Anonymous Balto said...

This recession was caused primarily by inordinate concentration of resources in construction and financial activities (which includes both financial services and real estate). No kidding those sectors (dominated by men) have been hit the hardest.

Professional and business services, which consists mostly of temporary services, administration, and waste disposal are also heavily male. Manufacturing, the next most affected sector, is mostly male.

The only sectors growing jobs are education/health care and government, which are dominated by women.

This is not a "man"-cession. It's a constructfinmanubiz-cession.


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