Have You Heard About the Mancession?


Did you know that the recession is affecting men and women differently? It is such a phenomenon that economists have coined a new term, “Mancession,” to describe the recession’s effect on men. The term was birthed out of the data showing the 2.5% gap between male and female unemployment numbers in this recession.

Part of the explanation for the gap is the kind of jobs that have taken the biggest hit in this economy: manufacturing and construction. Men make up 70% of manufacturing jobs and 85% of construction jobs. Women have not lost jobs at the same rate in this recession, but there are several reasons for this.

First, women often choose jobs with the family in mind. The percentage of women is higher in fields like education, retail, hospitality, health care, and non-profit. When you consider that education and health care are virtually recession-proof industries (unless you live in California), that factor also influences the employment gender gap. However, the types of  jobs women select are not as high paying; they tend to lack benefits, retirement savings plans, and pensions. Heidi Hartmann, an economist and president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, commented, “Women tend to choose a path that’s less risky, that’s more secure for their families.”

Even when the economy rebounds, many of the jobs that have been cut will not be reinstated. So this will, again, impact men more severely. Furthermore, this gender gap will have a sociological effect on families as more women become the primary breadwinners in the home. This shift will undoubtedly take a psychological toll on men. I personally know families where men have been laid off who are discussing the possibilities of the man becoming a stay-at-home dad since the wife has the more stable job and salary. This perhaps uncomfortable, unconventional model may become more of a norm during this recession.

The economy is, in this way, as in so many others, impacting issues that are far beyond money. The gender issues, if this continues, could very well impact a generation in our culture. Will there be a generation that remembers dad at home and mom being the primary breadwinner? Or is this going to be a short enough economic crisis that it will make this very question seem extreme? Whether the effect is long lasting, only time will tell. However, the questions and the pressure for families is very real right now. With the Federal Reserve predicting that unemployment could reach 10% by the end of this year, there is no denying that these kind of questions are weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of the Americans within that ten percent.

Have you noticed this in your community or city? Or does it sound like another out-of-touch academic answer for people who have too much time on their hands? How would you feel about a stay-at-home dad while mom works to pay the family bills? Do you think that there will be a long-term effect on the gender gap in the work force or in the family because of this recession?

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