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July 1994, Vol. 117, No. 7
Women and jobs in recoveries: 1970-93
Because men accounted for the vast majority of jobs that were cut in connection with the 1990-91 recession, one might expect that, as employment returned to the pre-recession level, men would regain most of the lost jobs. Instead, women filled the majority of the jobs added in the latest recovery of employment (February 1992 to April 1993), and men still filled substantially fewer jobs than they had before:the recession began according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of businesses,1 this pattern occurred in each of the four most recent business cycles (from l975 to 1993). Men lost a net 72 to 100 percent of-the jobs cut in the last four cyclical declines, and women filled 51 to 59 percent of the jobs as employment returned to pre-recession peak levels - although the employment of men did eventually recover and reach new highs as employment of women continued to increase at a faster rate.
The lag in the rebound of men's employment was longer after the most recent recession than after any of the three previous downturns. It was not until March 1994 that men regained the number of jobs they had held at the pre-recession peak of employment 3-3/4 years earlier. Meanwhile, the number of employed women increased by 2.2 million. (See chart 1.) This article explains why women gained most of the net new jobs in recent business cycles and emphasizes the latest period of recovery in employment.
While employment always falls during recessions, the exact months in which it begins to decline and start growing again often differ from the official peaks and troughs of the business cycle.2 The turning points of the nonfarm payroll employment series are used here to analyze gender shifts associated with recessions and recoveries. The period from the peak of employment preceding a fall off in jobs to the trough of employment is here termed a decline, and the period from the trough of employment to the point at which the number of jobs reaches the level of the preceding peak is called a recovery.
The subsequent period preceding the next decline is defined he as an expansion, the combined decline, recovery, and expansion is called a cycle of employment. The employment recovery period reveals particularly well the recurring cyclical contrast of substantial job gains for women during a long interval of substantially reduced employment of men.
This excerpt is from an article published in the July 1994 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program produces estimates of employees on all nonfarm payrolls, based on a monthly survey of about 390,00 workplaces. Data from the program appear in the Bureau's monthly periodical Employment and Earnings.
2 The official starting and ending points of business cycles are determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private, non profit organization which tracks developments in a number of economic indicators.
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