Michael Barone
Some of us called it the man-cession. In the deep recession that lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, many more men than women lost their jobs.

The imbalance was huge. The Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a decline of 5.4 million jobs for men versus 2.1 million for women. So 71 percent of job losses were absorbed by men.

If the numbers had been the other way around, you surely would have seen a lot of newspaper and magazine stories about women as the victims of the recession -- the kind of stories with headlines reading "Women, minorities hardest hit."

There were fewer such stories about the impact of the recession on men. One reason is that job losses, as is usually the case in recessions, were heaviest in construction and manufacturing, sectors in which men tend to predominate.

The other reason is that the journalistic class is just not inclined to see men as victims. So we haven't seen much investigation into whether the man-cession led to more divorces, family breakups, substance abuse or suicides.

There's another factor at work here: the difference between public-sector and private-sector jobs. During the recession, almost all the job losses were in the private sector.

Public-sector employment held up pretty well in the recession and into 2010. One reason was the Obama Democrats' February 2009 stimulus package, one-third of which was aid to state and local governments -- in which most jobs are held by women.

This was an attempt to maintain employment among public-sector union members. Such unions account for most union members, and unions channeled $400 million to Democratic campaigns in the 2008 campaign cycle.

But now the stimulus funds have run out, and public-sector payrolls are falling.

This helps to account for the fact, highlighted in a recent Pew Research Center report and a Washington Post news story, that from June 2009 to May 2011, the number of men with jobs rose by 768,000 while the number of women with jobs fell by 218,000.

The man-cession has become a (not large) man-covery.

This is in contrast to the economic recoveries following every recession since 1970, in which women gained more jobs than men. It seems to have left the Pew researchers puzzled.

It hasn't resulted from any massive increase in construction or manufacturing jobs. As the Pew report notes, men have gained more jobs than women in 15 of 16 major sectors of the economy. (The sole exception is state government.)

Men have gained jobs in the retail sector, in which women have lost them. The retail, manufacturing and finance sector employed 253,000 more men in May 2011 than in June 2009 and 433,000 fewer women.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM