increases in unemployment by age and sex

Although the impacts of the Great Recession continue to be widespread, there have been important differences by sex and age. In particular, males and the young were harder hit by unemployment. With respect to male-female differences, much is attributed to the declines in male dominated professions such as manufacturing and construction; whereas the economy’s main growth sector (health care), has more women than men.

In the following charts I show unemployment data from the US Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey to demonstrate these varied impacts.

In the first chart I show unemployment rates in 2007 (right before the recession) and 2011 (the most recent available), by sex (blue for males; red for females). It shows that unemployment has gone up for each cohort and both sexes; typically with higher male rates in both years. It also shows that unemployment rates decline as age cohorts increase.

In the following chart I present the same data somewhat differently. Here I show the percentage point increase in unemployment rate by sex and age cohort.

This picture provides more clear evidence that males have been slightly harder hit than females.

Lastly, I show changes in labor force participation rates over this time frame, once again by age and sex. (The labor force participation rate (LFPR) is the percentage of the civilian population that is employed or actively looking for a job). A decline in the labor force participation rate is usually seen as “bad.”

Here, we see once again that males were more impacted, with the LFPR dropping most for younger people.



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