Women's Job Losses Under Obama Have Been Driven by GOP Obstruction

A blog about business and economics.
April 11 2012 4:28 PM

Women's Job Losses Under Obama Have Been Driven by GOP Obstruction

142673129
A woman waits for Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at a campaign event on April 11, 2012 in Hartford, Conn.

Photograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Apparently the ridiculous political attack line we're supposed to talk about today is Mitt Romney's claim that 92.3 percent of jobs lost since Barack Obama took office belonged to women. This turns out to be true if you decide to assume that Obama is fully responsible for labor market events in January, even though two-thirds of January occurred before his inauguration.

The story within the story is that recessions hit male-dominated highly cyclical sectors like construction and manufacturing first. Women tend to disproportionately work in sectors like health care and education that show slow and steady job growth. But those male-dominated cyclical sectors also bounce back relatively quickly. So since the recession started more than a year before Obama's inauguration, male job losses were close to bottoming out by the time Obama took office and he's presided over a lot of rebound growth in male employment. Women, by contrast, have been devastated by cascading waves of teacher layoffs:

1334176074540
Advertisement

Not only have these layoffs primarily been implemented at the behest of Republican Party governors and state legislators, but the Obama administration twice—once in the Spring of 2010 and a second time in the fall of 2012—pushed hard for legislation to prevent layoffs of teachers. These efforts were roundly denounced by conservatives as wasteful and costly "bailouts" and so they didn't happen.

The moral of the story here is that the political coalitions in the United States are actually bound together by some fairly deep logic. From a purely demographic perspective, the Democrats are more the party of women and from an economic policy perspective Democrats are more the party of high levels of social service employment. Not coincidentally, women are much more likely to employed in the sectors that Democrats favor. If we'd implemented more conservative policies even more government workers (mostly women) would have lost jobs, but we'd almost certainly have seen an even bigger boom in male dominated undertakings like mining and pipeline construction. More generally, the high income earners whose taxes Democrats want to hike are disproportionately men and the social welfare programs whose benefits Republicans want to slash are disproportionately women. Economic policy is deeply gendered in the United States, and the choice between Democrats and Republicans is in part a choice about the allocation of material resources between women and men.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.