RECESSIONS TYPICALLY hit men harder than women, not least because they tend to disproportionately affect male-dominated industries, such as construction and manufacturing. In the recession of 2008-09, for example, men accounted for some three-quarters of American job losses. The most recent downturn, by contrast, has weighed on female-dominated sectors, such as retail and hospitality. Last year the share of women on American payrolls fell from 50% in March 2020 to 49.1% two months later, before inching back up to 49.8% today.
A recent paper by three economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco suggests that some of the disparity can be explained by differences in parental responsibilities. Using monthly data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, the researchers analysed the labour-market outcomes of four groups of prime-age workers (those aged from 25 to 54): mothers; fathers; women without children; and men without children. They found that women suffered more than men in the wake of the pandemic but mothers fared worst of all. Between February and December the employment rate of mums dropped by 7% and their labour-force participation rate fell by 4%. Fathers, by comparison, suffered the least among the four groups—even less than childless men. Their employment and labour-force participation rates fell by 4% and 1%, respectively. Another recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found that that the effect was biggest for mothers with children under five.
Publication Date: 8 March 2021
Publication Site: The Economist