Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Man-Cession and U.S. Unemployment

Gerard O'Neill mentioned the idea of the "man-cession" recently. Brendan Walsh has documented the Irish case and shows that "female participation in the Irish labour market held up well in 2008, but male unemployment has risen, and participation fallen, faster".

A recent post from the Economist Blog notes the 2.5% difference between the male unemployment rate (10.5%) and female unemployment (8%) in the U.S. during May (the BLS figures came out last Friday). This is the highest male-female jobless rate gap in the history of BLS data back to 1948. Overall, the U.S. unemployment rate climbed to 9.4 percent on Friday, its highest point in a quarter-century. On the Economix blog, Catherine Rampell compares job losses in recent U.S. recessions as a share of employment.

However, some commentators suggest that Friday's jobs report qualifies as good news. According to David Leonhardt on the Economix blog, the unemployment rate is "known as a lagging indicator, because it continues to worsen for months even after the economy starts to improve. A better indicator is the monthly change in overall employment, and it suggests the worst job losses of the Great Recession may now be over". However, he also cautions that "the economy remains in very bad shape. A broader measure of job-market distress than the unemployment rate — one that counts, among others, part-time workers who want to be working full time — shows a rate of 16.4 percent." More on broad measures of job-market distress is available here.

Finally, it is also worth noting that 21 percent of those who are unemployed have been out of work for at least 15 weeks. That figure exceeds the 19.6 percent proportion in this category that was last seen during the 1958 recession. According to Floyd Norris on his NYT blog, the long-term unemployment rate shows that there is still a major problem in finding employment for people. Returning to the theme of the "man-cession", Catherine Rampell commented recently that women are now surpassing men in degrees attained in every major category in U.S. higher education: associate, bachelor’s, master’s, professional and doctorate. This may go some way to explaining why more women are holding on to their jobs in the U.S.

1 comment:

Kevin Denny said...

Neologisms like "man-cession" get on my nerves, maybe this is just a man-grumble. Anyway the superior female performance in education is not confined to the US as this links from today's BBC shows:

I am not aware of a good explanation for this trend. The feminization of teaching has been suggested, lack of male role models for boys etc, but I haven't seen any good evidence. Contrast this with the growing gap between male & female happiness. Maybe we're smart to be so dumb.