So I’m driving around today and I turn on the news, only to hear Gov. Romney state that 92.3% of the jobs lost over President Obama’s tenure have been lost by women. That strikes me as a weird and unreliable statistic, possibly correct but certainly cherry-picked. So I did a little crunching and I also stumbled on an excellent bit of analysis by Cathy Rampell at the NYT.
And sure enough, as the table shows, by moving dates around, I can get pretty much whatever result you seek. Though politically irresistible, it’s rarely good economics to measure trends over a presidential term as opposed to a business cycle. President Obama and jobs is a perfect example. When he came on the scene the job market was hemorrhaging; since Feb 2010, it’s changed course. It doesn’t make any economic sense to mush those two different periods together.
As you see, net job losses in the recession, or since the recession began, were worse for men, but women have made few net gains since the job market began to recover. Over to Rampell:
Men are disproportionately employed in industries sensitive to early swings in the business cycle, like manufacturing and construction. These industries took especially big hits this time around, given the housing bust and the troubles of automakers.
In fact, of the overall job losses from December 2007 to January 2009, nearly half were in these two male-dominated industries. (These industries are still not doing particularly well, either.)
Women are disproportionately employed in government, typically as teachers or administrators of some kind.
Government payrolls are generally not hit immediately when recession strikes, but several months or years afterward, when state and local governments are dealing with lower tax revenues from the suffering private sector. There’s therefore a lag between private-sector and public-sector layoffs.
In fact, since President Obama took office, nearly four-fifths of all the jobs lost have been in the female-dominated government sector.
In other words, the ax falls predominantly on women when governments shrink, a trend that many Republicans (including Mr. Romney) have endorsed. The main way to stem these state and local job losses is to give more federal money to the states, a policy that Democrats (including the president) have been supporting and Republicans haven’t.