Women as Breadwinners

Unemployment is painful for anyone who wants to work but is unable to locate a suitable position.  With the increases in unemployment finally starting to lessen, the aftermath of layoffs has come into focus.  The manufacturing and construction industries were two of the hardest hit by the recession, suffering higher job losses than other industries.  Because these two industries employ disproportionately large numbers of males, men have suffered an equally disproportionate number of job losses. 

Since December 2007, men were at the receiving end of more than 74% of cuts.  Women, on the other hand, hold nearly 50% of payroll jobs, making them less vulnerable to financially motivated layoffs.  In June 2009, a record 1.4 million men left the labor force, as compared to a near-record 1.2 million women. 

The highest unemployment rate for men since the Great Depression was 10.1% in 1982.  In June, that number reached 10%. Post-Great Depression, the record for women was in 1982, 9.3%. Currently, it’s 7.6% today.

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What is less easy to quantify is the impact this shift has had on workplace and home-life dynamics.  As more and more women find themselves in a position of the sole wage earner, societal attitudes inevitably will be affected in some way, even if it’s not immediately noticeable.

Becky Beaupre Gillespie, of Good Enough Is the New Perfect, wrote a very insightful post detailing the struggle she and her husband have experienced in navigating their roles since he was let go from his job with a national law firm.  Her journey is surely one that many working women are experiencing across the country.  How it will impact the gender roles is yet to be seen.

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