The “Shecession” Appears to Be Mostly a Myth So Far

From the New York Times:

The pandemic recession is disproportionately damaging the careers of women — so much so that some experts call it a “shecession.”…One recent study found a disproportionate decline in employment for women of prime working age, 25 to 55, compared with men — and especially so for mothers.

This is one of those things that depends an awful lot on which statistics you choose to look at, and I don’t doubt that working-age women with small children have been affected disproportionately. That said, here’s the headline unemployment rate for prime-age workers:

If you cherry pick just the first few months of the recession, unemployment went up more among women than men. But that faded away, and by November the unemployment rate since the start of the recession had increased 3.2 percentage points for men and only 2.9 percentage points for women.

But wait. Maybe more women dropped out of the labor force and were no longer counted among the unemployed. Here’s the basic labor force participation rate:

Since the start of the recession, the labor force participation rate for adult men has gone down 2.0 percentage points. For adult women it’s gone down 2.1 percentage points. There’s really not much difference.

As I said, I don’t doubt that the recession has been harder on working mothers than on other groups, and if you dig into the numbers you can probably see that. Nonetheless, the overall effect of the pandemic recession has been pretty evenly split between men and women. There’s very little evidence of a “shecession.”

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