An analysis of payroll data from 2006 through 2013 shows that women have recovered 100% of the jobs lost during the recession and then some, while the male workforce struggles to catch up, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Overall employment for women hit a record high in March when payroll numbers surpassed 68.1 million.
Why have women weathered the recession better than men? One explanation is that the industries most severely impacted by the recession predominantly employ males. The goods-producing industries—construction, manufacturing, machinery—account for almost half of the 8.8 million jobs lost during the recession, when men’s job losses outnumbered women 2.6 to 1.
On the contrary, health care and education jobs—positions held overwhelmingly by women—have remained buoyant and still in demand. These service-providing industries prove to be less sensitive to changes in the business cycle, while goods-producing fields are much more cyclical.
Men’s total employment numbers have exceeded women’s since the labor market bottomed out—but not enough to fully recover from the blow of the recession.
The private sector shows similar trends: Numbers for the female workforce in the private sector hit a new high last month at nearly 55.7 million. Men still surpass women at 60.4 million, but haven’t closed the gap from 2007 yet.
The resilience of women’s employment from a rock-bottom labor market is historically impressive, but the recovery data does not account for population growth. Including newcomers in the workforce, the economy continues to lag for everyone.