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Men recovering more quickly from ‘mancession’ than women

Men suffered greater job losses during recessibut now they’re having more luck finding work than women are. | Sun-Times library

Men suffered greater job losses during the recession, but now they’re having more luck finding work than women are. | Sun-Times library

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Updated: August 3, 2011 9:00PM

Maywood resident Joe Taylor is typical of many men who lost their jobs during the Great Recession: He’s back to work — as a machine operator at Kraft Foods.

His gender suffered through greater job losses than women during the recession. But men are faring better than women in finding work in the recovery.

The so-called mancession saw the number of employed men plummet by 5.21 million from November 2007 through December 2009, according to Labor Department data as industries including manufacturing and construction were hard hit. Meanwhile, the number of working women sank by a much smaller 1.95 million.

But from May 2010 through May 2011, the script flipped. The number of employed men jumped by 686,000, while employment of women fell by 85,000.

“The industries that were driving job losses in the recession were really the male-dominated ones. Now we’re into the ones that are more dominated by women,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of the Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Women have been feeling the impact of budget deficits that have led to massive public sector job cuts, he said. Fifty-seven percent of the 22.1 million Americans employed by government are women, and within local governments, women account for 62 percent of the work force, the firm noted.

Women and men working in the government sector can expect to face continuing challenges going forward, according to Challenger.

“I think government is in a world of hurt,” he said. “The deficits are too deep. State, local and federal government are going to go through some more years of job cutting. I think that will continue.”

But while the government sector remains troubled, the male-dominated industries of manufacturing and financial services have been rebounding.

Taylor, who was unemployed for about 18 months after being laid off from his job assembling train engines at Electro-Motive Diesel in LaGrange, said he was hit hard by the recession. Prior to losing that job, he worked at a roofing company for 22 years, but was laid off in 2007. He and his wife had to get a mortgage modification, cut expenses and rely on unemployment benefits and his wife’s paycheck to make ends meet, he said. He applied for jobs at so many companies that he lost count and received help in finding work through the Chicago Federation of Labor’s Workers Assistance Committee.

“I was really happy to get this job,” he said of the Kraft position.

He landed it in October.

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