NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 4, 2009

Women held 49.83 percent of the nation's 132 million jobs in June and they're gaining the vast majority of jobs in the few sectors of the economy that are growing, according to the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, says reporter Dennis Cauchon.

That's a record high for a measure that's been growing steadily for decades and accelerating during the recession.  At the current pace, women will become a majority of workers in October or November.

From December 2007 to June 2009:

  • Men have lost 74 percent of the 6.4 million jobs erased since the recession began in December 2007.
  • Men have lost more than 3 million jobs in construction and manufacturing alone.

The only parts of the economy still growing -- health care, education and government -- have traditionally hired mostly women, says Cauchon.  That dominance has increased in part because federal stimulus funding directed money to education, health care and state and local governments.

The Postal Service is cutting tens of thousands of unionized, blue-collar jobs dominated by men while new hires are expanding in teaching and other fields dominated by college-educated women.

The gender transformation is especially remarkable in local government's 14.6 million-person workforce:

  • Cities, schools, water authorities and other local jurisdictions have cut 86,000 men from payrolls during the recession.
  • These same organizations have added 167,000 women to their payrolls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Equality in workforce numbers reflects a long-term cultural change, says Maureen Honey, author of Creating Rosie the Riveter, a book about the government's campaign to persuade women to work outside the home during World War II.  "The image that the man has to be the breadwinner has changed," Honey says.

Source: Dennis Cauchon, "Women Take Over Job Market," USA Today, September 3, 2009.

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