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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Front Page at the Washington Post: Employment Rates Are Dropping Less Rapidly for Men Than Women

Front Page at the Washington Post: Employment Rates Are Dropping Less Rapidly for Men Than Women

Thursday, 07 July 2011 04:31

There are a large number of organizations that produce interesting research on the labor market on a regular basis (including CEPR). Today the Post ran a front page piece on a study from the Pew Research Center that told readers: "Men Getting Jobs Faster than Women."

Those who read the article would discover that neither men nor women are getting jobs at a very rapid pace. In fact, the employment to population ratio (the percent of people over age 20 who are employed) has fallen for both men and women since the recession ended in June of 2009. It has just fallen more rapidly for women than men, a 1.1 percentage-point decline for women compared to a 0.5 percentage-point decline for men.

Given the slow rate of job growth to date, it is not clear that the pattern of employment growth at present tells us much about what the mix of jobs will look like when (and if) employment grows fast enough to raise the employment rate. This was a peculiar piece of labor market research to highlight, since the Post so rarely discusses the labor market. More obvious research to highlight would include the large and growing research showing that structural unemployment explains at most a small share of the increase in unemployment since the beginning of the recession. This means that the vast majority of unemployment is due to bad economic policy, not a mismatch of workers' skills/location and available jobs.

It would also be interesting to see a discussion of racial patterns in employment. While the employment rate for white men and women have edged up over the last year, employment rates for black men and women are at recession lows.

The Post could also do a piece that covers research the OECD and elsewhere that discusses the effectiveness of work sharing programs in reducing unemployment. Post readers would probably be interested in knowing that Germany's unemployment rate has actually fallen by 0.5 percentage points since the beginning of the recession even though its economy has grown no more than the U.S. economy.

This is due to the fact that it has given firms incentive to reduce work hours rather than lay people off. This policy costs no more than paying unemployment benefits and keeps workers at their job.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Fixed Coefficients for Factor Inputs Favors Manual Labor
written by izzatzo, July 07, 2011 6:10
Any economist knows that in developed countries like the USA the capital to labor ratio is generally fixed due to technological constraints such as one person-one computer and so on.

Since labor generally cannot be substituted for physical capital and vice versa they must be employed or laid off together, except in cases where unusually strong or intelligent men are capable of overcoming this barrier and perform manually the duties of physical capital for lower total cost.

This is why the employment rate for men has fallen less than that for women.

When demand falls off women refuse to engage in manual substitution while men compete vigorously with each other to demonstrate their survival skills while pushing labor to its highest valued use to the delight of employers.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.