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Male Unemployment in America

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Men bear the brunt of US jobs lost


By Sarah O’Connor in Washington


Published: April 19 2009 22:36 | Last updated: April 19 2009 22:36


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The US recession has opened up the biggest gap between male and female unemployment rates since records began in 1948, as men bear the brunt of the economy’s contraction.


Men have lost almost 80 per cent of the 5.1m jobs that have gone in the US since the recession started, pushing the male unemployment rate to 8.8 per cent. The female jobless rate has hit 7 per cent.



This is a dramatic reversal of the trend over the past few years, where the rates of male and female unemployment barely differed, at about 5 per cent. It also means that women could soon overtake men as the majority of the US labour force.


“It’s almost like a snow globe, the economy’s been turned over and we’re watching it settle in different ways,” said Gary Field, founder of Career Gear, a non-profit organisation that helps low-income men apply for jobs. He has seen referrals rise 35 per cent.


Men have been disproportionately hurt because they dominate those industries that have been crushed: nine in every 10 construction workers are male, as are seven in every 10 manufacturing workers. These two sectors alone have lost almost 2.5m jobs. Women, in contrast, tend to hold more cyclically stable jobs and make up 75 per cent of the most insulated sectors of all: education and healthcare.


“It shields them a little bit and softens the blow,” said Francine Blau, a labour market economist at Cornell University. “I think we are going to see this pattern until the recovery.”


The widening gap between male and female joblessness means many US families are solely reliant on the income the woman brings in. Since women earn on average 20 per cent less than men, that is putting extra strain on many households.



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