Where I mix career information and career decision making in a test tube and see what happens

Monday, February 24, 2014

Post-Recession Gains and Losses by Women



The Great Recession that ended the previous decade is sometimes referred to as the “Mancession” because it inflicted such a severe impact on male employment. This recession was brought on by a collapse of the housing market, and that in turn led to a severe reduction in worker demand within the heavily male construction industry. Making matters worse, the recession accelerated the job-diminishing effects of automation and offshoring in manufacturing, another heavily male domain. Service jobs, where women dominate, suffered less from this recession.

As the economy has slowly recovered from the recession, male and female gains have been uneven. How you compare them depends partly on how you define employment. Although the unemployment rate for women is now lower than the rate for men, the jobs women have regained in the recovery are more often lower-paying, part-time, and not self-employed.

I thought it would be interesting to look at a different measure than unemployment rate, earnings, or hours of work. Instead, I was curious about changes in the percentage of women in various occupations. Using figures from the Current Population Survey for 2007 and 2010, I created the following two tables. Because changes to very small occupations affect only a very small number of workers, I looked only at occupations that had workforces of more than 100,000 wage and salary workers in 2010.

The first table shows the 10 occupations that had the greatest gains, in percentage terms, between the 2007 percentage of female workers and the 2010 percentage.

Title
2007
2010
2010 Workforce
Gain
Highway Maintenance Workers
0.5%
2.3%
142,530
360%
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
0.7%
1.8%
587,510
157%
Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians
2.1%
3.8%
117,510
81%
First-Line Supervisors/ Managers of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers
5.4%
8.7%
415,900
61%
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
14.7%
22.3%
333,210
52%
Engineers, All Other
10.0%
13.8%
139,610
38%
Electricians
1.7%
2.2%
514,760
29%
Administrative Services Managers
32.7%
40.9%
240,320
25%
Computer, Automated Teller, and Office Machine Repairers
10.6%
13.0%
110,320
23%
Library Technicians
62.3%
76.4%
109,240
23%

All of these are occupations that either require a lot of hands-on work or work with high tech. (Library Technicians these days spend a lot of time with databases rather than shelving books.) The increase of women working as Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians may partly reflect the downsizing of the military as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have wound down; women working in this occupation overwhelmingly come from a military background. Regarding Highway Maintenance Workers, my guess is that this occupation gained many workers because of funding from President Obama’s stimulus package.

The next table shows the 10 occupations that had the greatest declines in female participation in the workforces.

Title
2007
2010
2010 Workforce
Decline
Telecommuni-cations Line Installers and Repairers
7.5%
3.7%
156,350
-51%
Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators
2.7%
1.5%
334,730
-44%
Civil Engineers
11.5%
7.1%
249,120
-38%
Fire Fighters
5.3%
3.4%
302,400
-36%
Sheet Metal Workers
3.7%
2.5%
131,600
-32%
Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists
1.1%
0.8%
222,770
-27%
Construction Managers
8.1%
5.9%
191,430
-27%
Cost Estimators
15.4%
11.4%
183,790
-26%
Parts Salespersons
17.4%
13.2%
201,610
-24%
Parking Lot Attendants
15.4%
11.8%
124,590
-23%

All of these occupations have traditionally been dominated by male workers, and many of the occupations are in the heavily male construction and manufacturing industries. Because many of the women who have been working in these occupations were hired there only recently, their job losses reflect the tendency of distressed businesses to lay off workers with the least seniority.

As the recovery continues, it will be interesting to see how the male-female balances recalibrate. I hope to post an update as newer demographic statistics become available.

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