Men Hit With 80% of US Layoffs

The gap between male and female unemployment is the widest on record

By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 20, 2009 10:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – Of the 5.1 million US jobs that have evaporated since the recession began, men have lost nearly 80% of them, the Financial Times reports, resulting in the widest gap between unemployment rates for men and women since recordkeeping began a half-century ago. Layoffs have nudged the male unemployment rate to 8.8% while the female rate sits at 7%, as females tend to hold more cyclically stable jobs.

Men have taken the brunt of the blow because they dominate industries hit hardest by the downturn; 90% of construction workers and 70% of manufacturing workers are male, and those sectors have shed nearly 2.5 million jobs. Women dominate in health care and education, the most stable sectors. The unemployment gap usually remains narrow, with both rates hovering around 5%. The new trend means women soon could overtake men as the majority of the US labor force, the FT notes.

Women tend to hold more cyclically stable jobs, like those in education and healthcare, which has shielded them from the staggering unemployment of their male counterparts in jobs like construction.
Women tend to hold more cyclically stable jobs, like those in education and healthcare, which has shielded them from the staggering unemployment of their male counterparts in jobs like construction.   (Getty Images)
Job seekers line up outside of a job fair in midtown Manhattan. People began lining up at 7 am for the 11 am job fair.
Job seekers line up outside of a job fair in midtown Manhattan. People began lining up at 7 am for the 11 am job fair.   (Getty Images)
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It’s almost like a snow globe, the economy’s been turned over and we’re watching it settle in different ways.
- Gary Field, founder of Career Gear, on the reversal in employment trends

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