Will a man-covery get us out of this man-cession?
While the federal government may be trying to do all it can to get people back to work with road-construction jobs, a better tack may be to give more men long-term job help by giving them free training in auto repair, plumbing, construction, manufacturing and other areas where men traditionally dominate but are losing jobs.
The unemployment rate for men 20 and older in July was 9.8%, or 2.3 percentage points more than the 7.5% rate for women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's a big gap. It matches the male-female jobless rate gap in May. It's the largest gap since the BLS started keeping such statistics in 1948.
A man-covery of training men for industries that are distressed during a recession -- such as construction and manufacturing -- shouldn't be seen as throwing more workers at dying industries. Those jobs will likely come back when the recession ends.
Ending the recession with more women workers is going to be difficult because while women may be safer in their jobs, they tend to find it harder to support a family. Women work fewer overall hours than men and are much more likely to be in part-time jobs without health insurance or unemployment insurance, according to a New York Times story.
And their pay is 80 cents on the dollar for their male counterparts, according to government data collected by the Times. Still. That's an injustice in itself.
"A lot of jobs that men have lost in fields like manufacturing were good union jobs with great health care plans," said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, to the Times. "The jobs women have -- and are supporting their families with -- are not necessarily as good."
Along with more trades training for men, that may be the best solution to a man-cession or recession -- finding well paying jobs for women that have good benefits.
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at www.AaronCrowe.net