The Great Recession, not long ago, was labeled the “man-cession,” because it hit sectors that employed male workers hardest. That doesn’t mean it spared female workers, though, and the ensuing economic recovery has been worse for women, as manufacturing and other male-heavy industries have rebounded but education and other female-dominant sectors continue to struggle.
One of the biggest causes of female workers’ woes is the rapid shrinking of America’s public sector, which has lost more than 700,000 jobs since 2009. Women have lost 450,000 of those public sector jobs — many of them in education — wiping out nearly 45 percent of the private sector job gains women have made since the recession ended, as the National Women’s Law Center noted in a release today:
“Today’s jobs data present a mixed picture for women,” said Joan Entmacher, NWLC Vice President for Family Economic Security. “Women’s unemployment rate is lower than it’s been at any time since April 2009. But overall job growth was modest last month and public sector job losses continue to hit women especially hard. Women’s public sector losses have wiped out 45 percent of their private sector gains over the course of the recovery. Continued cuts in local education, where 83,600 jobs have been lost since last August, also mean more crowded classrooms as students return to school.”
As NWLC highlighted in its release, the unemployment rate for women dropped to a three-year low in August. Given that nearly two-thirds of American households now feature a woman as a primary or co-breadwinner, though, the continued contraction of the public sector threatens both the economic security of our nation’s female workers and the economy as a whole. Women, and minority women in particular, are already disadvantaged because of the significant wage gap that exists between them and male workers, and the disproportionate effect of the public sector cuts only exacerbates their problems.