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More WA Women Bringing Home Less Bacon

July 24, 2009

Seattle, WA - In Washington and across the country, far more men have lost jobs than women, and it's a situation that has reversed the role of "breadwinner," even in the most traditional families. The main reason is that jobs filled mostly by men are in some of the hardest-hit industries, like manufacturing and construction. Those two categories alone have shed 54-thousand Washington jobs in the past year.

Marilyn Watkins, policy director for the Economic Opportunity Institute, says the result is two very different unemployment rates.

"Men in Washington State had an unemployment rate of 10.8 percent in June - and for women, it was 7.3 percent. That's a big difference. Two years ago, there was virtually no difference and of course, it was quite a bit lower then, about four and a half percent."

One concern about this trend, says Watkins, is that women's average monthly pay in Washington is only 64 percent of men's, so in many families, the person still working is likely to be the one bringing in less income.

"Of course, most families are dependent on all adults in the family bringing home some income. So, anybody's job loss is gonna hurt. But unfortunately, what we're seeing is, it's the higher-paid worker who typically is losing their job, in our economy right now."

Watkins believes women make less than men, partly because they are more likely to work part-time or in lower-paying industries that offer fewer benefits, although she says pay discrimination is still a factor. She predicts it will take the state at least two years to recover from the current recession.

EOI released a report, Washington's Working Women - Not Equal Yet, in March. Find it online at .

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA