WASHINGTON — The slowly recovering U.S. job market has helped women rebound faster than men: They’ve now regained all the jobs they lost to the Great Recession. Men are still 2.1 million jobs short.
To understand why, consider the kinds of jobs that are, and aren’t, being added.
Lower-wage industries, such as retail, education, restaurants and hotels, have been hiring the fastest. Women are predominant in those areas. Men, by contrast, dominate sectors such as construction and manufacturing, which have yet to recover millions of jobs lost in the recession.
“It’s a segregated labor market, and men and women do work in different industries, and even in different areas within industries,” said Heidi Hartmann, an economist and president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Economists have long known that the recession hit men the hardest. “A man-cession,” some have called it. Or a “she-covery.”
The August jobs report issued last week spotlighted the divergence:
The unemployment rate for women was 6.8 percent — nearly a full percentage point less than the 7.7 percent rate for men.
All told, 68 million women said they were employed last month. That topped the 67.97 million who had jobs when the recession began in December 2007, the government says.
Among men, 76.2 million were employed last month. That was down from 78.3 million in December 2007.
Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, says the lackluster economy has limited the growth of good jobs – the kind traditionally held by men.
The trend likely won’t reverse, she says, until economic growth picks up.