Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Y'Think This Might Be By Design?

The Great 'Mancession': Recession's big layoffs have hit men harder than women

Palm Beach Post-Cox News Service
Monday, September 07, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas — On a recent night, Dewey Overholser executed an ambitious dinner plan for his family: his mother's carne guisada recipe with homemade flour tortillas.
During Overholser's 25-year tenure at Advanced Micro Devices Inc., he hardly had time to play with dinner menus on a regular basis. But now, it's different.

Dewey Overholser lost his job in January in the midst of a downturn that some have dubbed the 'mancession' because layoffs have disproportionately hit men.

Dewey Overholser prepares the evening meal for his wife Elizabeth and their son Kevin, 12. Tonight's fare is carne guisada, something Dewey's mother used to prepare when he was growing up in Laredo.

In January, Overholser lost his job in the midst of a downturn that some have dubbed the "mancession" because layoffs have disproportionately hit men.
"It's great for now," Overholser, 54, said of his new duties handling the cooking, cleaning and laundry for the family, while his wife, Elizabeth, works as a teacher. "But I don't have any plans of staying home forever."
With massive job cuts in fields traditionally dominated by men, from engineering to manufacturing, more women are facing a new role as the sole family breadwinner.
The shift has upended household routines and threatened financial stability for many families, especially if they relied on the husband's job for health insurance and other benefits.
In July, the unemployment rate for men was 10.5 percent, compared with 8.1 percent for women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In May, the gap was 2.5 percentage points, the highest since the government began tracking such figures after World War II.
From the start of the recession in December 2007 through this past March, 79 percent of the jobs lost were held by men, while 21 percent were held by women, said Mark Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint.
But the better job security for women is offset by the fact that their jobs are concentrated in lower-paying sectors. In the second quarter, the weekly median paycheck for women was 80 percent of what men made.
Although local data on unemployment by gender isn't available, signs of the trend are visible in Austin as well.
"A lot of jobs have been lost here in manufacturing and construction," said Beverly Kerr, vice president of research for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. Meanwhile, jobs in "education and health care are up."
In Kerrville, Texas, Barbara Hofmann has returned to the work force after a 15-year hiatus. She left her job as a public utility worker in the early 1990s to focus on raising her three sons, with one now in high school and two in college, while husband Paul worked in city management for a variety of municipalities.
Last year, Paul Hofmann, 50, was suddenly cut from his job as Kerrville city manager under a new City Council.
The Hofmanns didn't want to leave the area. Their youngest son, Timothy, then 15, was visibly upset when he learned that his father had lost his job.
"Tears welled up in his eyes," said Barbara Hofmann, 48. "We were just determined to figure out how we would not have to move."
The Hofmanns were lucky: Within a few months, she landed a job as a public affairs representative for the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Paul Hofmann has since picked up some consulting work, but now it's Barbara's paycheck that mostly covers the family's bills and her job that provides health insurance.
Barbara Hofmann had expected to go back to work one day, perhaps when all her sons were in college.
"It happened sooner than I had planned," Hofmann said. But "I love my job. I love the people I work with. This job couldn't be a better fit for me and my family. It provides a comfort and security level that at least we knew that we could stay here."
Other families are not so lucky.
Kathy Lansford-Powell, president of the nonprofit Launch Pad Job Club, the largest networking and job-lead group in Austin, says layoffs take a heavy toll when a family's primary income earner loses his job.
"It's not quite as difficult if you have a spouse making as much income" as their partner, she said. "But when the primary income is slashed, it causes all kinds of problems. Anytime you deal with that much income loss, it's very difficult."

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