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In This Recovery, Women's Jobs Coming Back Slower

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"The economic rebound that began almost four years ago is weaker than the four previous recoveries, particularly for women," according to Heather Boushey, economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.

Boushey, lead author of a study that compares employment growth at this point in the recovery with its performance in four prior economic recoveries, points out that during the most recent recession and recovery four major industries lost more than 5 percent of employment: durable goods, nondurable goods, information and administrative services.

And "in each of these, women have lost a disproportionate share of the jobs."

That means the current economy is creating fewer jobs for women.

During the 1990-91 recession, payroll employment among women was up by 6.6 percent during the recovery period. But in today's recovery period, women's employment has increased by only 1.5 percent.

"Decreased female employment is likely to be due to fewer jobs, rather than mothers choosing to leave work," said Boushey. "Employment rates have dropped for women without children nearly as much as for mothers."

Home alone: Most working parents would never dream of leaving their young children alone in the home after school, would they? I think it's safe to assume that they would never want to do such a dangerous thing.

But then, not all parents have a choice.

According to the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization, 31 percent of U.S. children of working parents are unsupervised in the afternoons.

One of the solutions to this problem, the alliance believes, is quality after-school programs: The agency's goal is to ensure that all children have access to after-school programs by 2010.

In the United States, 14 percent of children in kindergarten through 12th grade in working families and 19 percent of children of working mothers attend after-school programs, the alliance reports.

"Fully 9.7 million children in working families who do not participate in after-school programs would be likely to participate if a program were available," the household survey shows.

And the title of the report is telling: It's called, "America After 3 p.m."

Sex plus: An old form of discrimination has a sexy new name, "Sex-plus," according to Debra S. Friedman, an employment lawyer representing management at the law firm of Cozen O'Connor.

Friedman, who is based in Philadelphia, writes in the firm's newsletter that "sex-plus discrimination occurs when employers treat a subclass of male or female employees differently ... engaging in conduct that targets a person on the basis of sex plus another characteristic. Such conduct is unlawful."

She cites as an example of sex-plus discrimination "treating working moms differently from working dads." Other "pluses" Friedman describes include being discriminated against because of your sex and being married; having children out of wedlock; your race; the number of children you have; if you have preschool-age children; and your weight.

"Awareness is crucial to reducing (employer) exposure to sex-plus discrimination claims," she said.

Taking risks: "Life is so sweet when you take your power and use it for yourself," according to Fawn Germer, author of "Mustang Sallies: Success Secrets of Women Who Refuse to Run With the Herd" (Perigee, $14.95). "If you feel stuck, unstick yourself. ... You have the right to feel good about who you are, love what you do and do it well. ... Every time you find yourself in a moment of self-definition, no matter how dark it is, you have the power to turn it into light.

"Be bold!"


(Carol Kleiman is the workplace columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Send e-mail to


(c) 2005, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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