Men Gain Jobs, Move into "Female" Industries

Last Updated Jul 7, 2011 11:10 AM EDT

Is the economy in a recovery? Your answer to that may depend largely on if you're a man or a woman, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

It's widely known that men were hit harder during the recession than women. Some 5.4 million men lost their jobs between December 2007 and June 2009, compared to 2.1 million women. At least part of that was due to the housing bust, which threw many construction workers out of work.

Since the recovery officially began in June of 2009, women have continued to lose jobs while men have found them. Since 2009, women have lost an additional 218,000 jobs, while men's employment has grown by 768,000 jobs. According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the unemployment rate for men is now 9.5%, while the unemployment rate for women is 8.5%.

Where the jobs are
At least part of the gain in men's employment has come in industry sectors, such as education and health services, that are traditionally thought to be strong ones for women. During the recovery, men's employment in education and health services has grown by 7.0%, while women's has increased by 3.2%. According to this piece in the Washington Post, the number of men training to become nurses and pharmacy technicians is rising dramatically.

The report looked at 16 major sectors of the economy and found that in all but one, men were gaining more jobs than women.

  • In five sectors, men have gained jobs while women continue to lose them. The difference in the retail trade sector is especially stark: Men gained 159,000 jobs while women lost 165,000 jobs.
  • In five other sectors, both men and women have gained jobs, but men have gained more jobs. These include education and health services and professional and business services.
  • In an additional five sectors, both men and women are still losing jobs. But men are losing fewer jobs in these sectors than women are. These include jobs in construction and local government. Overall, government has been shedding jobs, and more of those getting pink slips are women. During the recovery, federal, state and local governments eliminated 297,000 jobs held by women and 133,000 held by men.
  • In only one sector-state government-have women added more jobs than men.
First of its kind
These trends defy historical norms, says the Pew report. In all other recessions since 1970, both women and men gained jobs in the early days of the recovery, but women gained jobs more quickly. That was partly because women have been in the midst of a dramatic transition from home to the workplace during those years. This recovery is the first since 1970 in which women have continued to lose jobs after men started to gain them.

Is the recovery creating jobs in your industry or at your company? For whom?


Image courtesy of flickr user TKTK
Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor, and editorial consultant. Follow her on twitter at
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    Kimberly Weisul is the co-founder of One Thing New, the free email newsletter for smart, busy women. She was previously Senior Editor at BusinessWeek, responsible for all coverage of entrepreneurship and for launching BusinessWeek SmallBiz, a bimonthly magazine. She is also a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant.