Is This Recession a 'Man-cession'?

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2009-06-16 Print this article Print

It's pretty interesting to read a news release trying to give a gender spin to a recession that has impacted everyone so deeply. I realize Father's Day is coming up, but is this really news that there are more men than women unemployed right now?

Maybe. But it feels kind of forced.

Here's how outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas puts it in its latest report:

The recession has been particularly hard on men. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the number of unemployed men aged 20 and older has doubled in the last year alone, increasing from 3.7 million in May 2008 to 7.5 million last month. The ranks of unemployed women have also grown during that time, but not nearly as fast. Last month, the BLS counted about 5.6 million out-of-work women aged 20 and over, up from 3.6 million in May 2008.

There are no up-to-date statistics on the percentage of unemployed men who are fathers. However, in 2008 there were 743,000 married couple families with children under age 18 in which the father was unemployed. That was up 18 percent from 628,000 married couple families with unemployed fathers in 2007.

"Some have dubbed this recession the 'man-cession' because of the heavy impact that the downturn has had on construction, manufacturing and financial services; industries heavily occupied by men. Meanwhile, health care and education, sectors dominated by women, are doing relatively better," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The numbers say there are 2 million more men than women out of work. Two million is 2 million--and that's hard to ignore.

But what's missing from this release is how many women are working full time, being breadwinners while men are looking for work, and how many families have both parents out of work right now. In a society that has an abundance of two-income earners, it's hard to single out one gender and say its members are worse off.

I know the point of this release was to show how this is a time to give Dad moral support on Father's Day, but if you ask me, most families are doing a whole lot of that with or without a holiday. Moral support is a daily task right now, regardless of who lost a job--Mom or Dad.

It feels a little awkward to be forcing a news release about how this is more centered around men, when it's really a coincidental factor that certain industries that employ more of one gender are struggling. There are plenty of states in this country where health care and education are being squeezed, and mothers are feeling that pain too.

Again, I respect the inclination to try and give fathers their due--and they do deserve that support and encouragement. But maybe, just maybe, this holiday isn't one that needs reminders of the economy, unemployment and recession.

Let Dad enjoy this holiday with his family. |

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