It turns out the recession is producing some inequality among the genders, but for once it's tipping in favor of women.
The Labor Department is reporting that more men than women are out of work. Compared to last year, about 1.1 million fewer American men are working. But the number of female employees has gone up by about 12,000. In the last recession, which spanned from early 2001 to early 2002, the number of employed men dropped by about 900,000, while the population of women with jobs fell by about 700,000.
Economists say the chasm is due to the fact that the current downturn is clobbering male-dominated industries centered on creating goods, such as construction, which is about 90 percent male. Women, on the other hand, work in more service-oriented jobs where there is still a demand, such as healthcare, in which nearly 80 percent of the workers are women and which added more than 400,000 jobs in the last year.
But just because women are keeping their jobs doesn't mean they're advancing in them, especially since those service-oriented jobs populated by women aren't exactly the high-paying fast-track type. Women made up only 6.2 percent of top earners in 2008, down from 6.7 percent in 2007, according to a study by Catalyst, a nonprofit group that promotes opportunities for women in business. And women held 15.7 percent of corporate officer positions in 2008, an increase of only .3 percent from last year.
So, with fewer men working and women stalled in their climb up the corporate ladder, wives and girlfriends may have to work overtime or take on second jobs to pay the bills. Kristy S. from Philadelphia has been feeling the strain since her boyfriend lost his construction job five months ago.
"I absolutely have had to work harder to make ends meet," she told Lemondrop. "I make just enough each month to pay our bills. When he had a job, his money was our savings and spending money for everything else, including gas, food, clothes, entertainment, etc. So, without him bringing in any money, it is very difficult for us to be able to do anything else but pay bills."
As stressful as having an unemployed significant other might be, psychotherapist Kathy Carnahan says staying calm and supportive is key. The people who get new jobs quickest are the ones in which the spouse helped in the search, she claims.
Tell us: If your spouse or boyfriend got laid off, how would you make ends meet?