5/8/2012 7:01 PM ET|
Why women will lead the recovery
Despite recent buzz about higher unemployment stats, female workers are poised to lead the post-recession economy. Here's why women may be the next comeback kids.
Anybody paying attention to politics lately may have gotten the impression that women are falling behind in the economy. This misconception is just one more reason to tune out politicians.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney recently generated buzz by claiming that women have accounted for 92.3% of all jobs lost since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. That's technically true, given the selective way Romney chose his numbers and the context he chose to leave out. But Romney's startling factoid distorts the role women play in the economy overall, and it especially misrepresents the strides women are likely to make over the next several years -- which will significantly outpace the gains made by men.
Male and female workers tend to be clustered in different industries, which is why they fared differently during the recession. Men dominate fields like construction and manufacturing, which often suffer sharp layoffs early in a downturn. That's why the recession was initially characterized as a "mancession." Women are more prominent in recession-resistant fields, such as health care, education and real estate, where jobs cuts generally came later. As a result, they're enduring more post-recession aftershocks.
Nonetheless, the current unemployment rate among women is 8.1%, compared with 8.3% among men. During the recession, the gap was even greater, favoring women by more than 2 percentage points for many months. The overall trend is likely to persist throughout the recovery. Because women tend to be better educated than men, with more relevant skills, economic power will continue to shift -- as it has for the last 20 years -- toward women. "Women are uniquely positioned to take advantage of jobs in tomorrow's growth industries," Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote in a recent report, "and tend to enjoy stronger earnings growth relative to men."
Women indeed have a striking educational advantage. According to the Department of Education, women will earn 55% of all bachelor's degrees conferred this year, plus 60% of all master's degrees and 53% of all medical degrees. By 2020, those proportions are projected to be even higher. Men today earn a slightly higher portion of professional degrees, such as MBAs, but women will outnumber men in those too by 2020.
Education is still highly correlated with future earnings, despite mitigating factors like some graduates' mounting debt load. So women will get ahead simply by virtue of their knowledge and credentials. Women also tend to have training in those fields projected to grow the most. Merrill Lynch points out that in the fields likely to add the most jobs through 2018 -- including nursing and other medical sectors, accounting and post-secondary teaching -- women have a growing proportion and, in many cases, a majority of the jobs.
Many men, by contrast, work in fields that are shrinking or being dramatically transformed. Construction, for example, could take a decade to recover. Manufacturing has rebounded from the lowest points of the recession, and some analysts think a healthy revival is under way. Even so, the recovery will mostly entail a smaller number of technical jobs, with overall employment levels unlikely to return to the peaks of the 1990s. Meanwhile, big Fortune 500 companies with legions of male gray-flannel-suiters are generally healthy, but they're doing far more of their white-collar hiring overseas than in the United States.
Women face barriers, such as the career disruption caused by having and raising kids, and pay that's still not equal, despite years of gains. Yet women have become an economic force anyway, and policy decisions in Washington have had practically nothing to do with it. In a new book, "The Richer Sex," journalist Liza Mundy predicts that women will soon be the primary breadwinners in the majority of U.S. families, a status that suggests women will increasingly dominate decisions about how money gets spent in America, and therefore how the whole economy evolves. That's likely to happen no matter who's president. But don't tell Mitt Romney.
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Come on! Women already make most of the spending decisions, and have since my grandmothers day!
So what your really saying is what will happen in the future is what's been happening forever!
Rocket scientists you folks aint.
Wow - the sexism in these comments is unbelievable. I think it's cute that scambuster thinks we're only good for journalism and selling cosmetics. I've seen a lot of changes in recent years that I think signify a large shift in our workforce in general - men are becoming more accepted as nurses, women becoming more accepted as doctors, a rise of women in engineering, more men willing to stay at home with children. No change is absolute, but it's more like a simple balancing out of the sexes.
Oh - and Scambuster? I am a bookkeeping consultant for start-up businesses - helping establish budgets, payment plans to pay off start up costs, establish staffing needs, and Quickbooks training. The majority of my clients are male business owners who struggle with budgeting. Should I assume, therefore, that all men are bad at starting a business? Also, every business I've consulted for has been profitable - including those started during the Great Recession. Should I assume that means all women are excellent budgeters? It's impossible to make blanket statements about the skill sets of men versus women without sounding like an idiot.
In my efforts to rid the neighborhood of undesirables, as a man, it's embarrassing to see the women have so much more initiative than their husbands. I've never seen such a bunch of cowardly, apathetic men in my life.
If the men in this hood had half of the guts my widowed 73 year old neighbor has,
it would have been cleaned up a long time ago!
Just do the math - there are more women in the population than there are men. Forget to mention that "factoid"?
That's what 30 years of gov't sanctioned, gender bias against the men/ boys will do for you/ us.
Men are a minority of the US population by about 3 million and lack the edu and 'health/ care' awareness and attention spewed out to the general public lo these many years.
Women want all the opportunities and less so the responsibilities.
Want equality? March on the Pentagon and demand that women, just like men, be required to register for Selective Service ("The Draft) and face the same negative consequences as men for failing to register.
Gender equality in the 21st Century? My ****!
All this kind of doesn't matter anymore. Society-wise & culture-wise, America has been on the decline since the 1960's, sadly. This has been the main result of the "Me Generation" baby-boomers.
I'm not a Christian or a Republican, but sadly I concede they are right on one main point: lack of traditional family values (imperfect though they were) will result in the collapse of society. We are gradually ceasing to be an actual country and becoming just a plot of land where a bunch of people happen to live.
There is a reason why there are so many obese children, so much violence among children and why American people have been degenerating. We thought that 2-income families or single-parent families (pretty much same thing as 2-income family) would work, that daycare and public education would be as good as what came before. Surprise, they were not.
As if that wasn't bad enough, everyone has acted since 1945 (when the USA was the only developed country that was not a pile of rubble and we had 50% of world production) like the good times would roll forever, that resources like fresh water & energy were infinite and that everyone could have it all.
A) The destroyed countries rebuilt
B) The thatch-hut countries are catching up
C) Resources are NOT infinite and those who are catching up are taking some of their fair share
D) The good times are not going to continue to roll (and have not for some time)
E) The chickens are coming home to roost.
F) The DOW will hit 15,000 when hyperinflation sets in and bread is $15/loaf
Working hard, working smart...either works for me as long as your trying to contribute!! And stocks? bahaha what a joke. I'm not concerned with being alone (clearly, women can take care of themselves), but it's sad that many (not ALL) of our young men really don't put forth an effort, at least it seems more and more that women are the more responsible, ambitious sex. Laziness from men or women is unattractive. Not that you need to work yourself to death, it is important to live a happy life, but I know that my generation (women inlcuded) and below seem to be on the decline in the "work ethic" department, and I realize this is partly due to the economy. It's not looking good, is all I'm saying. And I'm only 25!!
scambuster had this to say:
It takes male innovation, drive and productivity in professions such as engineering, science, energy, transportation, law enforcement, medicine and infrastructure to compete globally and really bring in the money.
Ummm, guy (I will guess you are a guy), you really need to read more carefully. Women outnumber men in medicine right now in terms of the degrees they are taking. Exactly how you come up with the idea that law enforcement is a "productive" profession while education is not is also extremely puzzling.
Engineering and science are very broad fields--they encompass energy, transportation, and infrastructure. So, you are saying that engineering and science are "productive." Well, okay--given that US men are no longer dominant in degrees in engineering and science either--those degrees are going to international students, in large part, and women for a smaller part--your point was . . . ?
Women are dominating in medicine these days because it is a field in which there are very few autistic men--autistic men dominate in engineering and science, they are terribly bright, and they do not want women in the field. They are very good at screening the women out via hostile practices. This is why women who would have done non-medical engineering and sciences go into medical science--and you really cannot say that there is no science, math, or engineering in medicine. It just happens to involve people--something that autistic men do not like.
As it becomes more obvious that women depart one set of fields to go into medicine, and that they are excelling in medicine, universities should develop programs that let the women excel in engineering and science, too. Smith College, for example, has an all-female engineering school that is very good. More of the women-only schools will jump on board--and that last little bastion of male supremacy will be gone.
Remember back when women could only be secretaries and nurses? Politics, law, medicine, and religion--the "professions" unlike the "trade" of engineering--were all beyond their reach. Now, women are evident in politics and religion--and outnumber the men in law and medicine. You have had to fall all the way back to the "trades" to try and prove male dominance--seriously, it won't be long before that goes, too. What will you do then?
YSounds as if you will have issues with women no matter what they do.
I am a middle aged woman who has consistently out earned my spoouse. Our cars are paid off years earlier than the loans are due because I put thousands away every month so we can do that. We have no debt because of my financial savvy, not because of his. I paid off his student loans in one lump sum when he graduated. I had no student loans when I graduated because I paid my way. And guess what? I learned that from my mother, not my father. My father consistently got us into debt and my mother was left to clean up the mess.
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