Mid-Valley Share of Workforce by Sex Changes with Economic Conditions

by Will Summers

April 10, 2018

Women have made up almost half of Oregon’s workforce since the 1990s. There were some distinct characteristics of the last recession and in the recent years of this expansion that have gender-specific impacts. Consider those good old “mancession” articles that popped up everywhere. Women’s rising share of the labor force in the early part of the Great Recession was due in part to the huge employment losses in construction and manufacturing. They are among the most male-dominated industries. Please note that each sex’s share of the workforce only changed by about 2 to 3 percentage points after women’s participation stabilized somewhat following the 1990s.

The industries that are female-dominated didn’t slow down hiring much during the recession, and they were among the first to start increasing the number of jobs they created after it ended (think education and healthcare). With the return of manufacturing and construction employment, men’s share of the workforce has rebounded. The Mid-Valley counties have a greater percentage of manufacturing and construction jobs than we have across the state, thus the larger drop in the percentage of males in the workforce during the recession. The return of manufacturing jobs also helps explain the rebound of the percentage of men in the workforce.

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