Blue collar males lose more ground

Mon May 18, 2009 9:29pm EDT
 
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By Ed Stoddard

DALLAS (Reuters) - Rodney Ringler is an unemployed blue collar male without a college degree. He's hardly alone. Men like him have been the main victims of the current recession in the United States.

"I haven't worked since December of 2007, around the time this recession started," Ringler, a 49-year-old computer technician, said as he walked his dog in a Dallas suburb.

He sees little light at the end of the tunnel.

"I've been looking to get into law enforcement because it's a growth area," he said, but had no immediate prospects.

One statistic that stands out in America's recession-stung economy is the unemployment rate for adult men: in April for the second month in a row it surged ahead of the national average to 9.4 percent versus 8.9 percent for all workers. The jobless rate for adult women was 7.1 percent.

The reasons are clear: male-heavy sectors such as construction and manufacturing have been hard hit. But the implications may be dire for the broader economy and hamper the recovery as families that once had male breadwinners struggle.

"In the 2001 recession, 51 percent of all job losses were for men. It was evenly split. But in this recession 80 percent of the jobs that have been lost have been men's," said Andrew Sum, a labor economics professor at Northeastern University who has studied this issue in detail.

Men also incurred about 80 percent of the job losses in the 1990-91 recession, but Sum said by his calculations the numbers this time were dramatically different. In the 1990-91 recession, men lost 1.037 million jobs. They have lost 4.5 million to date in this one.   Continued...

 
<p>Jim Gibson leaves his tent for the day at a homeless tent city in Sacramento, California in this March 15, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Max Whittaker/Files</p>