2010-15 Gender equality in the US labor markets in the Great Recession of 2007-2010
The Great Recession of 2007-2009, the worst economic downturn faced by the U.S. economy since the Great Depression, has also come to be known as the Great Man-cession in that job loss hit males harder than females. By contrast, this paper argues that the man-cession story is far too simple. Using a broad range of indicators from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and taking a historical perspective, we show that several demographic groups have been especially hard hit by the recession, including African American males and females, Hispanic males and females, young females, and families maintained by single women. In addition, the gender gap in unemployment is much smaller once underemployed and marginally attached workers are counted. Data from the Current Employment Statistics cast further doubt on the man-cession story, indicating that women lost over 10 times more jobs in the current recession than in the previous two recessions compared to men, who lost 2.3 times more jobs. Following this review of the trends, the paper surveys federal and state government responses to the needs of workers hardest hit by the recession and concludes that man-cession label has led to misidentification of the most vulnerable groups who should be the explicit beneficiaries of economic recovery policies.