Mancession Recovery… Sexist!

In a strong indication that, among journalistic practitioners, the biased media narrative is more a matter of intellectual laziness than cultural duplicity, the latest canned story, by Los Angeles Times reporter Don Lee, is that workplace discrimination is landing men the great majority of “newly created” jobs:

Since the recession ended in June 2009, men have landed 80% of the 2.6 million net jobs created, including 61% in the last year. …

The gender gap has raised concerns about possible discrimination in hiring. If the trend persists, it could set back gains made by women in the workplace, experts said.

“It’s hard to know [whether] some employers place a priority on men going back to work,” said Joan Entmacher, vice president for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center. Of particular concern, she said: Opportunities for women in higher-paying fields such as manufacturing are shrinking.

But back in February 2009, even the New York Times had to acknowledge the reality of the male-dominated recession, or “mancession”:

The proportion of women who are working has changed very little since the recession started. But a full 82 percent of the job losses have befallen men, who are heavily represented in distressed industries like manufacturing and construction. Women tend to be employed in areas like education and health care, which are less sensitive to economic ups and downs, and in jobs that allow more time for child care and other domestic work.

Of course, Times reporter Catherine Rampell saw the silver lining as women’s approaching men’s percentage of the workforce.  A conservative can’t help but think of Margaret Thatcher’s criticism of socialists, that they’d be happier to have everybody equally poor than wealthy over wide spectrum.  For that matter, I can’t help but think of callers’ accusations of greed on my part when I presented my conclusions regarding teen unemployment and the minimum wage on the Dan Yorke Show, yesterday.  As if it’s better for our society to proclaim that our workers are making another dollar per hour, even though there are therefore fewer workers.

Returning to the topic at hand, though, the equivalent percentages between the two articles is misleading.  Men’s claiming 80% of new jobs doesn’t come close to compensating for the jobs that they lost, even if we hold that percentage steady.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from February 2008 to the month of the above New York Times article, the labor force had shed 5.2 million jobs.  80% of that would be 4.1 million. But employment didn’t turn positive until March 2010. Over the two years, employment fell 8.8 million, 80% of which is 7.0 million.

On the upswing (sorry, “upswing”) since then, employment has increased by 3.8 million people, 80% of which is 3.1 million.  So, assuming that men have averaged four-fifths on both sides of the equation, the “sexist” 3.1 million gain is less than half of the equalizing 7.0 million loss.  And that’s without considering that, on average, the new jobs pay less than those that disappeared.

Life looks quite a bit different when one imagines four million people out of work, rather than four million male figurines on a culture-war battle plan.  Personally, I suspect the former perspective would make for more compelling news stories, too.

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