The Day

7/17/2011

This economic recovery hasn’t been very kind to women.

In fact, the Pew Research Center says that two years into our economic recovery, women have lost jobs while men have gained them.

That troubles Teresa Younger, who heads the state’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. “I think it’s surprising,” she says. “Historically, women have always bounced back from recessions as quickly as men have, if not quicker.”

“And what I also found surprising, as I read the report, is that women were faring less well in the recovery in areas where we were making great strides,” said Younger, who serves as executive director of the Hartford-based agency, a research-and-policy arm of the state legislature.

Younger says that she wants to see solid job growth during this recovery – for men and for women, rather than a skewed employment picture where one gender is advancing and the other is falling behind.

The Pew study, released earlier this month, shows that from the end of the national recession in June 2009 through this past May, men gained 768,000 jobs and actually lowered their unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points. Women, on the other hand, lost 218,000 jobs and their unemployment rate rose two-tenths of a percentage point.

These trends, according to Pew researchers, are different than those occurring during the actual recession, when men lost twice as many jobs as women – 5.4 million for men versus 2.1 million for women.

“Employment trends during the (current) recovery have favored men over women in all but one of the 16 major sectors of the economy identified in this report,” said the Pew researchers.

The only sector where gains were made was in state government, with women adding jobs while men lost employment.

The Pew report says that from a gender perspective, this Great Recession has “defied modern norms.” Women have fared better than men in the first two years of all other recoveries since 1970, the Pew report points out.

In addition, the Pew Research Center says it isn’t “entirely clear” why men are doing better than women in this current recovery.

Says Younger, of the permanent commission, “it’s of concern to us that in fields not traditionally populated by women and where women have made strides, such as manufacturing and finance, they are losing jobs at a faster rate.” She does says that this lack of jobs availability for women post-recession could foster growth in women starting their own businesses and could encourage more entrepreneurship among women.

Nonetheless, Younger worries about the impact on Connecticut’s economy from this lack of employment among women.

“We have to keep in mind that women are making up 51 percent of the work force and a growing percentage of heads of households,” she explains.

“And women make 80 percent of spending decisions in households. If their jobs are not returning as quickly, what does that mean to local business and local communities all the way up to the state’s tax base,” she asks.

Original Article