Thursday, March 05, 2009

More on Unemployment

A couple of interesting factoids on unemployment in this recession.

First, unemployment is hitting the tangible sector the worst:

But in the midst of the gloom, it’s essential to point out that the damage is still concentrated in the ‘tangible sector’—that is, those industries which either produce,move, or distribute physical goods. In January the percentage of job losses coming from the tangible sector fall somewhere in the range of 75%-85%. (The exact number depends on how many of the temporary help layoffs are in manufacturing, construction, and retail—there’s no way to tell).

Meanwhile, the jobs losses in the intangible sector are much more moderate. Education and healthcare are still growing, and other intangible-producing industries have relatively small losses.
Second, the hits in the tangible sector mean that more women then men will have jobs:
With the recession on the brink of becoming the longest in the postwar era, a milestone may be at hand: Women are poised to surpass men on the nation’s payrolls, taking the majority for the first time in American history.

The proportion of women who are working has changed very little since the recession started. But a full 82 percent of the job losses have befallen men, who are heavily represented in distressed industries like manufacturing and construction. Women tend to be employed in areas like education and health care, which are less sensitive to economic ups and downs, and in jobs that allow more time for child care and other domestic work.

As of November, women held 49.1 percent of the nation’s jobs, according to nonfarm payroll data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By another measure, including farm workers and the self-employed, women constituted 47.1 percent of the work force.

Women may be safer in their jobs, but tend to find it harder to support a family. For one thing, they work fewer overall hours than men. Women are much more likely to be in part-time jobs without health insurance or unemployment insurance. Even in full-time jobs, women earn 80 cents for each dollar of their male counterparts’ income, according to the government data.
Third, unemployment is now moving up the age and educational ladders (see previous post on education and unemployment):

The total number of unemployed increased by more than 50 percent from January 2008 through last month, but the number of jobless Americans 55 or older jumped by 70 percent, according to new Labor Department numbers released Friday.

For people with college degrees, the number rose even more sharply, by nearly 85 percent.

Finally, this interactive map allows you to easily see which parts of the nation are getting hurt the worst.


Raymond said...

There are still 3.7 million jobs posted on various job sites, here's 3 of the best from (networking) (aggregated listings) (matches you to the perfect job)

Good luck to those seeking work

Audacious Epigone said...

Hah, in today's news cycle are the three top categories of job losses in my metro area--construction, engineering, and technology. The big gainers--government, education, healthcare, and hospitality. What a disaster. The jobs women are overrepresented in simply cannot sustain economic growth, because they are not net creators of value.

Re: putative unequal pay, women work (and are willing to work) fewer, more restricted hours on average than men are. They are also less likely to accept promotions that require geographical relocation. And women average fewer years on the job than men do. When all of these things are controlled for, women have been shown to earn essentially the same as men (actually 2% more). Of course, if women really were undervalued by one-fifth relative to men, a strategy for market dominance would be easy--just higher lots and lots of women, and you have it made!

Fat Knowledge said...


The big gainers--government, education, healthcare, and hospitality. What a disaster. The jobs women are overrepresented in simply cannot sustain economic growth, because they are not net creators of value.

Interesting take. I guess I have a harder time defining what exactly are "net creators of value". Were all the smart men on Wall Street in the last 10 years net creators of value? From the stock market it certainly appeared that way until 2 years ago, and now it seems like they did not create any value at all. That there was a huge opportunity cost of them being in the financial sector rather than in scientific research or being math and science teachers.

I think that at the country level the net creators of value are increased education levels and increased scientific and technological levels. So, if government and education spending going up help those things then I am all for it (although just spending more doesn't necessarily mean it will improve). Also government spending on infrastructure seems like a net creator of value as it allows for better transportation, faster internet access and more access to clean water in the future.

Also, if you look over the last 50 years, I thought that the growth in GDP was driven by increases in healthcare and leisure spending. I guess though, that that is where the money was spent, not necessarily where the value was created.

Re: putative unequal pay, my point was just that since typically men go for higher paying jobs, when they lose their jobs it hits the family budget much harder.

I agree with much of what you say.

Although, this recent market collapse makes me think that many people just follow the herd and do what others do rather than act as true profit maximizers. That if other firms are paying women less, then they "must" be worth less, no need to actually question this assumption and see if a competitive advantage could be gained by hiring more women.

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