U.S. News

The Man-cession and the He-covery

During the height of the recent financial crisis, a new term entered the lexicon of pop economists and established number-crunchers alike --- “man-cession.” This term refers to the loss of jobs among men, which occurred at a higher rate than it did among their female counterparts.

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The data bears out this disparity. “Over the course of the official recession, men lost twice as many jobs as women,” says Heather Boushey, Senior Economist at the Center for American Progress. She attributes this to the hammering that the male-dominated construction and manufacturing sectors took in the economic meltdown.

Fortunately, things finally seem to be turning around for the dudes. “Since the economic recovery began, as defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research to be June 2009, private-sector employers have hired 503,000 men,” Boushey said in March 2011. “Over the economic recovery so far, men have seen especially strong job gains in professional and business services, adding 425,000 jobs.”

Men have also been branching out into sectors that are considered by some to be less he-manly than construction and manufacturing. “Men were bleeding jobs in manufacturing and heavy industry,” says Adam Hanft, CEO of the marketing firm Hanft Projects. “The gush has been stabilized and some industries are hiring. Further, some men are actually shedding their testosterone boundaries and taking jobs in retail."

While things may be getting better for the male of the species, Hanft cautions men to watch out for long-term employment trends, which still do not favor them. “Women are increasingly better educated and in urban areas like New York City, women earn more than their male counterparts,” he says. “Further, the jobs of the future—that involve complex, multi-dimensional processing—are those that women are best equipped for, as research into brain biology is increasingly proving.”

Boushey cautions against reading too much into the economic data, however. “People want to make this into a battle of the sexes in the labor market, but the situation is sad for everybody,” she says. “The reality is that we lost a lot of jobs. It’s great that we’re seeing manufacturing coming back, but we’re not creating jobs fast enough, and unless manufacturing picks up, and the recovery takes hold, we’re not going to get families back to where they need to be.”