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Report: Women Lost Disproportionate Financial Security During Recession


Although more men lost their jobs, the Great Recession has had a deeper negative impact on women.

CREDIT: flickr / reegone

Projected and actual job market growth have alleviated some concern over the condition of the economic outlook this winter, but fallout from the recession is ongoing. And new research suggests not only that recession has affected certain groups more than others, but that some will take longer and have more difficulty than others recovering from the downturn. 

A report [PDF] by the Institute for Women's Policy Research concludes that women lost significant financial security during the recession. 

“On almost every measure of insecurity and hardship the survey reveals the Great Recession has visited more hardship on women than it has on men,” reads the report.

The authors point to an economic security survey conducted by the Institute for Women's Policy Research and the Rockefeller Foundation that shows that although more men lost their jobs than women, the economic vulnerability was damaged more severely. 

“Despite families’ increasing reliance on women’s earnings in recent decades, throughout the survey, women generally report more financial difficulties, lower economic expectations, more pessimistic perceptions of the economy, and greater experiences of hardship than men,” reads the report. “Women’s lower earnings and their greater likelihood of raising children on their own when compared with men no doubt contribute to their difficult circumstances.”

While men lost more jobs during the beginning of the recession—leading some, the authors note, to dub the downturn the "mancession"—they have also recovered more swiftly, beginning around the end of 2009. According to survey data, many women are pessimistic about the economic outlook, with nearly one in five concerned that they will be laid off in the coming year.

To cope with the recession, according to researchers, American women are borrowing, drawing on savings and retirement accounts, taking on credit card debt and “doubling up” on living expenses with family, romantic partners and unrelated roommates or boarders.

Respondents across party lines favored laws that would help balance work and family life, as well as legislation to guarantee paid leave and flexible schedules.

In an article provocatively titled “The Recession Was Sexist,” the Atlantic associate editor Jordan  Weissmann notes that while men have gotten back one in three jobs lost during the recession, women have recovered only one in five.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a gender gap,” Weissmann wrote. “And it's not clear whether it will narrow.”

The Institute for Women's Policy Research is a policy think tank, based in Washington, DC that engages in research and outreach related to domestic women's issues. It was established in 1987.

Jon Christian is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_Christian.

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