Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Local Employment Dynamics Reveal Battle of the Sexes. . .and the Generations
by Gail Krumenauer
Published Jan-17-2014

When the Great Recession took hold, it was often referred to as a "man-cession." That's because male-dominated industries like construction and manufacturing were particularly hard hit. As the private sector began to see growth again and government payrolls have taken hits - particularly in the female-dominated local government education sector - the woes of women started to catch attention. The latest set of economic catchphrases includes terms such as "he-covery," which reflects the relative labor market improvements for men when compared with women.

Do these generalizations apply to Oregon's labor market? We can examine the changes in Oregon's employment by gender through the recession and recovery by taking a closer look at the employment dynamics data for men and women over the last few years. Local employment dynamics data provides quarterly employment numbers by type of business ownership, industry, and gender.

Role Reversal
Stable jobs are those where the job was held with the same employer on both the first and last day of the quarter. This implies that the worker held the same job, or stable employment, during the preceding and subsequent quarters to the one in question.

During the first quarter of 2012, all stable employment rose by 14,600 jobs compared with the first quarter of 2011. Men ages 14 to 99 saw an increase of just over 14,300 jobs over the year, while employment for women rose by just over 200 jobs. In privately owned firms, men saw a net increase of 15,800 jobs, while women gained about 4,500 jobs. State and local government employment showed a year-over-year loss of 1,500 jobs for men, while women netted a loss of 4,300 jobs.

Growth in 2012 was similar to growth in 2011, which was drastically different than growth during the Great Recession (December 2007 through June 2009). During the first quarter of 2008 - the first full quarter of the recession - the data show job growth for both men and women. However, the gains from the previous year were more modest for men (2,900 jobs) than for women (12,300) in Oregon. By the first quarter of 2009, both genders had experienced dramatic year-over-year job losses. Men fared far worse than women, losing 43,700 stable jobs (-5.8%) compared with the women's decline of 10,800 (-1.5%).

Although the roles have reversed, women saw a rise in private employment but a decrease in state and local government employment between the first quarters of 2011 and 2012. And while men have seen an improvement in employment numbers, they're still facing a much larger employment deficit. Between the first quarters of 2007 and 2012, men have seen a net loss of 36,900 stable jobs, while women experienced a decline of 11,100. While looking at different quarters changes the numbers slightly, the trend remains the same: men lost the most stable jobs during the recession but are now seeing a better bounce back compared with women.

It is worth noting that a drop in stable employment doesn't necessarily translate to a decline in overall employment. If a stable job ended in the first quarter of 2013, it could be because that worker accepted a job offer with a new employer in the middle of the quarter. The stable employment relationship would be broken in this case, but that worker was still employed.

Graph 1
Year-over-year change in first quater stable employment Oregon
Hippies vs. Hipsters
The local employment dynamics data also classifies workers by age groups. Taking a look at these groups, the "battle of the sexes" in Oregon employment trends appears to be paired with a battle of the generations.

In the first quarter of 2008, workers between the ages of 14 and 18 saw a decline of about 2 percent in stable jobs from the previous year. At the same time, the 55 to 64 and 65 to 99 age groups experienced year-over-year gains of 5.4 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively. That doesn't seem unreasonable; student-aged workers may naturally experience less stable employment compared with older age groups due to school and extra-curricular commitments. As the recession progressed though, these younger workers certainly took a disproportionate hit in stable jobs relative to their more experienced counterparts.

In the first quarter of 2009, four age categories saw job losses over the year. The worst of these occurred for the 14 to 18 age category (-15.2%). Meanwhile, employment rose by 0.6 percent over the year for those ages 55 to 64, and remained almost flat for workers ages 65 to 99. By the first quarter of 2010, year-over-year job declines reached 22 percent for those ages 14 to 18. The next-highest losses occurred for workers ages 19 to 24 (-5.4%). The bulk of the working population, those ages 25 to 54, mirrored the overall trend for all workers with a decline of 3 percent over the year. The 55 to 64 and 65 to 99 age categories fared much better than the rest; stable jobs increased by 1.7 percent for the 55-64 category and 2.3 percent each for the 65-99 category.

In the first quarter of 2011 and 2012, the 14-18 age category saw declines, but at a smaller rate than in the previous two years. The 55-64 and 65-99 age categories continued to gain jobs. The 55-64 age category grew by 1.8 percent, a decline from last year, but the 65-99 category grew by 9.5 percent, its highest among the years analyzed in Graph 2.

Interested in more data by gender, age, industry, or county? You can find it in our Quarterly Workforce Indicators tool (http://www.qualityinfo.org/olmisj/qwi) at QualityInfo.org.

Graph 2
Year-over-year change in first quarter stable employment selected ages Oregon