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Recession Emphasizes Shift in Men to Women as Breadwinners

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 By Eric MackContact
August 3, 2009

DENVER - In Colorado and across the country, far more men have lost jobs during the recession than women, and that's reversing the role of family breadwinner in some homes. Furthermore, according to Lorena Garcia, Colorado director for the 9to5 National Association of Working Women, when women become the sole breadwinner, the household often becomes less stable since pay for women still doesn't equal what men make, on average.

"When women are the ones solely responsible for earning, there's a lower standard of living today and less retirement security for tomorrow because women are paid less than men."

On average, women in Colorado make 78 cents for every dollar a man makes, Garcia points out. Numbers from the U.S. Labor Department show nearly three out of four jobs lost during this recession belonged to men, because the industries hit hardest, like manufacturing, are traditionally male-dominated.

Ira Wolfe is a workforce trends expert and author of "The Perfect Labor Storm." He says what's happening in the job market also displays the challenge for workers caught in a shift in jobs from brawn to brains.

"That doesn't mean that construction workers and manufacturing workers don't have that capability, but it's certainly a different training."

Garcia says that's a great reason to support more training for "green collar" and other emerging job fields, for both men and women.

Wolfe says what is visible now are more cases of a trend that started before the economy went bust.

"That shift already happened. What the recession did, certainly, was accelerate what they predicted for years. The male participation rate in the workforce was declining, and the female participation rate was climbing."

Wolfe says as of the early 2000s, about 75 percent of women ages 18 to 45 were collecting paychecks.

More information is available from Wolfe, 1-717-333-8286.

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