Please note: This is a guest blog post. Thank you Suzan.
The Great Recession has been referred to as a “mancession” because men were more likely to lose their jobs than women. In truth, however, the full effect of the economic downturn on women is only now being felt, as the recovery is tending to reward male-dominated fields to the detriment of sectors where women tend to concentrate their careers. The choices women are making to combat this trend could put them in a position to require debt help in coming years or, it could position them to emerge as the next generation of American entrepreneurs.
Women Weathered the Height of the Recession Well
Statistically, quantifying the effect of the recession on women is fairly straightforward. Men and women tend to work in clearly defined job sectors. Although the exact start of the recession is unclear, from December 2007 to February 2010, the American economy lost more than 8.5 million jobs. At the beginning of that period, women held almost 50 percent of all non-agricultural jobs in the U.S. but only 29 percent of the manufacturing and 13 percent of the construction positions.
During the recession, health services and education saw an increase of 844,000 jobs, with public sector positions picking up 97,000. Certainly women were hard hit, seeing a job loss figure of 2.7 million, but in general they fared better than men. In fact, the CIPD Work Audit report showed that since 2008 women between the ages of 50 and 64 had the most job market success of any genre. (Interestingly, about 4.7 percent of single women lost their jobs in the same period, as opposed to 1.6 percent of married women, according to data compiled by The New York Times.)
The “Recovery” is Proving Less Kind to Women
However, as the economic recovery sluggishly moves forward, 81 percent of all new positions have gone to men, with women seeing a meager 19 percent gain. Additionally, public sector jobs are not bouncing back during the recovery and through the end of April 2012, are down 284,000 at the state and local level. Of those lost jobs, two-thirds were held by women, particularly in local jobs with government and in K-12 education.
With the funds disbursed as stimulus money to state and local governments via the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act now spent, more jobs will be lost to education cuts and the elimination of state services. These cuts will affect women in the coming months as those are the very fields in which they have weathered the recession. This presages the need for greater debt help in the years ahead, which could be of particular concern for young women. Many women in their late 20s and early 30s, rather than coping with current levels of unemployment or opting for entry level positions they don’t really want, are choosing to go to graduate school in increasing numbers.
Predicted Student Loan “Bubble” Could Hit Women Hard
Many economic analysts are predicting that the student loan “bubble” will be the next to burst. Early in 2012 the total amount of outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. passed the $1 trillion mark for the first time and is now greater than revolving credit card debt. The average college graduate walks out of school with both a diploma and $45,000 in debt. Given unemployment that has hovered in the 8-9 percent range, and given the jobs toward which women normally gravitate, that level of indebtedness is particularly frightening, especially as student loan debt cannot normally be discharged through bankruptcy proceedings.
Even when women do enter the workplace, they are less successful at negotiating salaries and asking for promotions based on performance reviews. Consequently, so called “Gen-Y” women, those in their early thirties, increasingly believe that entrepreneurship is a safer avenue for them in the future than full-time employment. According to a survey by the Young Entrepreneurs Council, 79 percent of Gen-Y women want to become entrepreneurs, with 35 percent already engaged in a side business even though they are employed. Although the recovery from the current recession is still anemic at best, it could further fuel this growing impetus.
Just as the total consequences of the recession cannot yet be measured for the nation as a whole, its effect on women is not completely clear. Moving into the so-called “recovery,” women are facing a more challenging job market as their sectors of choice are those most subject to budget cuts. While the trend toward young women seeking higher-level degrees to ride out this storm is, on one hand, positive, the specter of looming student loan debt cannot be ignored. It could, however, be counterbalanced by growing female entrepreneurship. It is, indeed, completely accurate to say that men and women have not experienced the recession equally, nor are they experiencing the same kind of “recovery.”
This is a guest post written by Suzan Bekiroglu. Ms. Bekiroglu is a published author, freelance writer and editorial consultant for secureloanconsolidation.com. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida, she faced the mounting obstacle of paying over $24,000 back in student loan debt. Thus, she became determined to eliminate the debt and become very knowledgeable about money management. She seeks to educate others with tips on managing student loans and other kinds of debt, as well as in general personal finance and money saving tips.