The 'Mancession' Ebbs as Economic Recovery Revives Male Hiring

employed maleIt's Father's Day, and there's nothing like a good old fashioned commemoration to remind Americans just how badly men have it these days when it comes to jobs. The recent recession has devastated male-dominated industries, such as financial services, construction and manufacturing, resulting in higher unemployment rates for men compared to women.

This "mancession," has seen the number of jobless men over 20 climb by more than 5 million to reach a record 8.4 million as of October, according to analysis by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based employment-services firm.

"Man-covery" Begins

But as the economy has revived, so it seems has the market for male-dominated jobs. Men over 20 have recorded four consecutive months of employment gains, adding about 1 million jobs since Feb. 1, Challenger says. Women, however, aren't yet seeing improvement and have instead seen a loss of 22,000 jobs during the same four-month period.

Women avoided a lot of the loss because female-dominated industries, such as health care, weren't affected as severely, says Challenger CEO John Challenger. "During this recession, three-quarters of the 8 million-plus jobs that were lost happened to men, so it's not surprising that women don't have as far back to come."

But it isn't clear why men are making gains. "It just seems to be the fact of the moment," says Paul Kurnit, clinical professor of marketing at Pace University's Lubin School of Business. It may be the result of a correction or simply a rise in the supply of jobs typically done by men.

Federal Stimulus to the Rescue

The big question now is whether men can continue making further gains. With new-home building nearly at a standstill, it may take more than several years before some construction trades turn around. Some of those workers, however, appear to have had better luck finding work thanks to the federal stimulus program, which has funded thousands of infrastructure projects.

On Friday, President Barack Obama was in Ohio to mark the start of the 10,000th project funded by the stimulus, which he signed into law in February 2008. Obama said pouring concrete and widening lanes has created a lot of needed jobs, NPR reported.

And there's more on the way. There will be six times as many highway projects as last summer; eight times more national parks projects; and 20 times more water projects.

Long Road to Recovery

Nevertheless, it will take years of steady job growth for men to regain their foothold in the economy, although there has been improvement. "What we've moved from in the past year is from scared to skittish," Kurnit says. Further, with all that's going on, from erratic reports on the economy to the European debt crisis and the massive Gulf oil spill, looking for a job these days is like riding an emotional roller coaster -- up one day, down the next, and always the potential for nausea.

Still, if there's one thing many men can count on these days, it's that traditions, such as celebrating Father's Day, aren't going anywhere. And there are few better ways to start a Sunday in June than with breakfast in bed.

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