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Rosie The Riveter

Rosie The Riveter

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AT WORKNot quite a victory for RosieBy DIANE STAFFORDThe Kansas City StarMore NewsThis recession may do what Rosie the Riveter and Gloria Steinem never intended: We could end up with more women on payrolls than men.Since 2007, men have been losing jobs at a faster pace than women.

In June, 10 percent of the adult male work force was unemployed, versus 7.6 percent of adult women workers.Just 12 months earlier, 5.2 percent of adult male workers were jobless, as were 4.8 percent of female workers.The escalating male unemployment rate isn't surprising, given the male-dominated industries hurt in this downturn.In June, joblessness was 17.4 percent in construction; 13.9 percent in durable-goods manufacturing; 13.6 percent in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; and 13.2 percent in farming, fishing and forestry.Meanwhile, the kinds of jobs more often held by women — education and health care — maintained a jobless rate just a tad above 6 percent.In Paul Harvey's words, here's the rest of the story:There were about 2.76 million fewer men employed in June 2009 than in June 2008, and the adult male employment-to-population ratio fell from 72.6 percent to 68.8 percent.Meanwhile, there were only about 951,000 fewer women drawing paychecks this June than 12 months earlier, and the female employment-to-population ratio slipped only from 57.8 percent to 56.4 percent.And that's why a work world of Rosies isn't yet good for U.S.


This isn't a political or family values statement.

It's economic.Whether nature or nurture, women historically have participated less than men in the work force.

They move in and out of the labor force with greater frequency, they tend to have shorter job tenures, and they tend to retire earlier.When the job market finally improves, men could well charge far ahead in employment and earnings.

Until then, the woman-as-breadwinner role is crucial.Even at their historically disproportionate earnings — in the aggregate, women earn about three-fourths of what comparable males earn — women are supporting more households.But one-fourth of working women (aged 25 and older) hold only part-time jobs.

That's more than double the part-time work rate of adult men.

And in the first quarter this year, their earnings averaged just $269 a week.Rosie the Riveter may have been well-paid, but Rosie the part-time retail clerk barely has a subsistence paycheck and likely has no health-care or vacation benefits.

According to the June jobs data, there were about 7.577 million more adult American men than adult women employed.But this is how the recession has challenged male workplace dominance: A year ago, employed men outnumbered employed women by 9.78 million.Reach Diane Stafford at 816-234-4359 or [email protected]
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