Saturday, January 10, 2009

Obama team will not fix tough times for men

Male employment has fallen 1.8 million so far during this recession. If Obama is right that the economy will get worse before it gets better, we should expect that, sometime in the next few months, male employment will be down a total of 2.5 million (men lost 350,000 jobs in November 2008 alone).

Female employment is down much less (see my post next Wednesday).

The Obama team today released parts of a plan to save the economy and boost employment (they claim) 3.7 million by 2010 Q4 (almost 2 years from now), of which 2.1 million will be male employment.

The 3.7 million grossly exaggerates what government can do, but I am going to take their calculations literally for the moment. They are saying that male employment will still be down about 400,000 two years from now, whereas female employment will be a million higher than it was when the recession started.

Assuming that sex changes are not part of the fiscal stimulus plan (of course, they are not!), the Obama team admits that it intends to put to work a very different group of people than were working a year ago.

One defense of that part of the Obama plan is that the income matters -- it does not matter who earns it. I tend to subscribe to this view, but it implies that we should be looking at GDP and not employment.

If employment matters per se -- that is, public policy should "fix" low employment even if GDP were doing fine, then I do not see how the Obama team can defend putting people to work who were not working a year ago, and allowing those who worked a year ago to remain without jobs.

[added: a standard measure of employment is "payroll employment" -- that is, the number of positions on businesses' payrolls. Each position is either held by a man or a woman, so the "male employment" I described above is just the number of positions held by men. It does NOT refer to the number of occupations that are "male dominated", but rather to positions actually held by men. For example, some of the male employment is in nursing because some men are paid to work as nurses. Some of the female employment is in construction, because some women are paid to do construction work.]

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

What, precisely, is a "male job" or a "female job". If you mean jobs held traditionally by one gender or the other, you need to keep in mind that:

1) very very few jobs require a particular gender; last I checked it was illegal
2) faced with unemployment or taking on a traditionally female job, people will take the job that is available

I do not find it likely that people (women as you seem to be claiming) who are not currently working would suddenly start; more likely people will take jobs that are different from the ones they held before.

What I find more disturbing about this whole thing is that traditionally female jobs are also ones that pay less; the number of jobs may increase but the pay for those jobs won't be anywhere near the pay for the jobs they may have left.