Recession Socks Men Harder Than Women Female Jobs, Pay Rise since '89, Data Show

Article excerpt

American women endured the latest recession better than men, and posted gains in both jobs and pay, new government data show.

Since 1989, when the economy started dipping into recession, real median wages of women have grown 2 percent, while men's wages have dropped 5 percent after adjusting for inflation. These conclusions are based on a forthcoming study of wage trends by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research center in Washington.

"Women do much better in recessions," said Laura Freeman, an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and co-author of a new study of women and jobs in downturns. "Men work disproportionately in cyclical industries like construction and mining, while women work in more stable service jobs and in government."

As a result, in the first half of this year, women's hourly wages reached 78 percent of men's, a historic high. Only two decades ago, the ratio was 64 percent.

Department of Labor statistics also show that the number of women in the workplace increased. From July 1989 to July 1993, the share of adult women with jobs grew a tenth of a point to 54.9 percent, while that of men sank 2.7 points to 71.9 percent.

From July 1990, when the recession began, to February 1992, when employment hit bottom, women actually gained 50,000 payroll jobs while men lost 1.7 million.

As women keep entering professions traditionally dominated by men and command higher pay within occupations, they are making significant gains even in rough economic times.

Last year, women financial managers made 75 percent as much as men, up from 60 percent only three years before, Labor Department surveys show. …