LatinaLista — The Institute for Women's Policy Research released a report this week underscoring the inequality of the labor force when it comes to men and women. Aside from pay differences that still exist between the sexes, we now see that even the media tends to focus more on male job losses during this recession than what women are enduring as well.
Women and Men's Employment and Unemployment in the Great Recession reveals that women have lost jobs in such sectors as: retail, hospitality, and personal and business services. The loss of jobs in those sectors, along with others, have contributed to the fact that there are more than 2.8 million more women unemployed since the recession began.
The report reveals that there does seem to be equality when it comes to men and women being out of work for the same length of time -- about 29 weeks. Yet, fewer unemployed women collect unemployment insurance benefits compared with unemployed men.
Overall, women are faring better than men in this recession with more women being able to hold onto or find work. Yet, there is one group of women who are suffering the worst:
Women who maintain households without the support of a spouse have their highest unemployment rate, 13 percent, in more than 25 years in December 2009; more than 1.3 million women support their households on their own are looking for work.
The unemployment rate for this group may still be increasing.
The thrust of the report offers viable solutions to help single mothers and recession-hit low-income families weather this financial downturn and emerge better than before.
Some recommendation are:
Reauthorize TANF and require states to meet national eligibility standards again, and provide sufficient funding so that cash assistance to families, like Food Stamps, can be increased in times of national emergency.
The pursuit of higher education should be enhanced for all low-income students who are able to benefit from further education by providing increased funding, not only for tuition but for living expenses; grants rather than loans should be provided. In the past welfare allowed parents to complete two- and four-year degrees, and that flexibility should be reinstated.
For women to have equal opportunity and equal ability to support themselves and their families, stronger enforcement of anti-discrimination laws is needed, along with such family-friendly policies as paid sick days, paid family leave, flexible schedules, and subsidized child care, equally available to men and women.
Girls and women need to be encouraged to pursue higher-paying career paths, many of which are non-traditional for women or minorities.
An unforeseen consequence of the recession and pay discrepancy between the sexes in the labor force is that in those households where only the women are working, the families are having to survive on smaller paychecks.
If ever there was a time to re-evaluate the true worth of women's labor it is now.