The Great Man-Cession of 2008-2009 Continues

unemployment rate

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).

male vs female unemployment

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.

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About Mark J. Perry 262 Articles

Affiliation: University of Michigan

Dr. Mark J. Perry is a professor of economics and finance in the School of Management at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan.

He holds two graduate degrees in economics (M.A. and Ph.D.) from George Mason University in Washington, D.C. and an MBA degree in finance from the Curtis L. Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Since 1997, Professor Perry has been a member of the Board of Scholars for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a nonpartisan research and public policy institute in Michigan.

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