European men losing jobs faster than women
A new study by the European Union found that unemployment is having a disproportionate effect on men because male-dominated industries have been hit hardest by the recession.
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A report from the EU's employment research unit Eurofound says women fared better than men in the labor market during the recession. Of the five million jobs shed between 2008 and 2010, four million were held by males, one million by females.
The reason behind higher unemployment among men may have little to do with gender issues, and almost everything to do with the gender composition of the industries hardest hit by the recession. Construction and manufacturing, for example, have taken some of the biggest blows and these tend to be male dominated professions.
"It has nothing to do with women; there's nothing feminist or unfeminist about it. Sex is of declining significance in the labor market. I don't think women are more vulnerable than men, or vice versa. It's entirely a question of the industrial composition of the [individual national] economy," says Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the Center for Policy Studies and former research fellow at the London School of Economics.
Gender differences among blue and white collar jobs
Professional-grade positions in the female-dominated health and education sectors continued to expand while mid-paying and traditionally male industries, such as construction and manufacturing, contracted.
The manufacturing industry lost jobs in both traditional and high-tech segments of the industry, while the construction sector has virtually collapsed in many countries, with employment in the construction industry down by as much as half in Ireland and the Baltic countries.
While almost all the employment growth in the top quintile in the 27 EU countries has gone to women, net female job losses "have been exclusively in middle- and low-paid jobs," the report says.
"Both men and women lost jobs in net terms, but in terms of 'top jobs,' better paid and professional positions, there was job growth overall and women got the lion's share of them," says the EU report's co-author John Hurley
There is also evidence of growing polarization between blue and white collar jobs for both sexes. While the service sector has created jobs at the top and bottom of the employment structure, there have been comparatively few new mid-rank jobs, meaning the service industry is not picking-up the slack from losses in manufacturing.
"We're seeing an hourglass shaped labor market, with most of the losses concentrated in the middle," says Andrew Sissions, a researcher at the Work Foundation, a British think-tank that tracks employment and industrial issues.