By Shannon Firth
When Patricia Dyett’s unemployment benefits ended last year, she knew she needed to find work fast. Already behind on her rent, she registered with four different staffing agencies. She phoned, waited, and phoned some more. In December 2011, there were no assignments, but by January, Dyett was given a few short placements. This spring she found work for several weeks at a time at a beauty company.
First there was the Mancession, where more men than women lost their jobs than Meagan. Next came the Hecovery where more men regained jobs more quickly than women. When can we expect a Shecovery?
Prospects for women’s employment are improving but it will take more then temporary assignments and low paying service jobs to bring about a Shecovery.
Women gained 73 percent of the jobs that were added in April, according to Joan Entmacher, Vice President of Family and Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center. However, because the economy grew only 115,000 jobs in April, “getting 73 percent of a fairly small number doesn’t reflect that many more jobs,” said Entmacher.
It isn’t only the number of jobs that we should be assessing but also the quality of those jobs. During the recovery the majority of new jobs have been low paying jobs. oftentimes in jobs that tend to be more female dominated like retail and food service,” said Sarah Jane Glynn, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.
While Entmacher said she anticipates an uptick in job growth for women, there are still roadblocks. “We are approaching the summer months when teachers who are getting pink slips get their pinks slips,”said Entmacher. “So we’re not out of the woods yet.”
Because women hold a greater proportion of jobs in the public sector, they suffer the most from targeted cuts. The number of women in local government jobs, which includes teaching positions, has declined throughout 2011 and into 2012. The number of women in state jobs has seen an increase in the first few months of 2012. (Because of mistakes in calculating the Postal Service surveys, some government statistics related to the federal public sector have been temporarily removed.)
“For every two private sector jobs women have gained in this recovery they’ve lost a public sector job,” Entmacher said.
Maria Wronowski is a special education teacher in the New York City public school system. Her school is one of the 24 selected by Mayor Bloomberg slated to be closed and then reopened this summer. Teachers will be asked to submit their resume and interview for positions they were already holding. In the fall, only half of her school’s teachers will be re-hired.
“I am the health insurance holder for all my family,” said Wnorowski, who grew up in Poland. English is her second language. “If I will lose the job that will affect us very badly,” she said.
If we are to drive forward a shecovery our focus needs to be on strengthening the economy. “Businesses don’t have enough demand for their goods and services to be hiring more people,” said Entmacher. “And I think keeping up that demand is the most important thing at this point to create jobs for women and for men.”
Based on the media attention given the Mancession, it’s clear some employers feel its more important for men to get back to work. If there is going to be a shecovery then hiring managers will have to make an ideological shift away from seeing men as the primary breadwinners.
“When women are denied employment or when women are paid less for their work it doesn’t just impact them it impacts their families and their communities and frankly the economy as a whole,” said Glynn.