BLS data released today show that the 2.5% difference between the male unemployment rate (10.5%) and female unemployment (8%) in May is the highest male-female jobless rate gap in the history of BLS data back to 1948 (see charts above of the monthly unemployment rates since 2002; and the DIFFERENCE between male and female jobless rates since 1948 below). Further, the 2.5% gap matches the largest gap in either direction – there was a 2.5% female-male jobless rate gap for several months in the mid-1960s and again in the mid-1970s (see chart below).
The chart above showing the monthly male-female jobless rate gap back to January 1948, also displays the last 11 U.S. recessions (shaded areas), and suggests the following:
1. The current male-female jobless rate gap of 2.5% is a truly unprecedented; there has never been such a huge gap between men and women in any previous recession or any previous expansion.
2. In the last three U.S. recessions (1981-1982, 1990-1991 and 2001), there was a male-female jobless rate gap of about 1%, but nothing approaching the current 2.5% gap.
3. In the other past recessions, there either wasn’t much of a male-female jobless rate gap at all, or a jobless rate gap in favor of men, like during the two recessions of the 1970s when female unemployment rate exceeded male unemployment by about 2%. However, that 2% gap in favor of men was actually fairly typical during much of the period between the mid-1960s and late 1970s, recession or not.
Bottom Line: We are experiencing an unprecedented male recession during the current economic downturn, or the “Great Man-Cession” of 2008-2009.