While the recession has hit men far harder than women — so much so that some pundits have dubbed this economic downturn a “mancession” — the Obama administration is focusing on the struggles women are facing during these tough economic times.
The National Economic Council released a report Thursday detailing women’s economic hardships and the different ways the administration is helping to alleviate their pain.
The report heralds the president’s economic policies but acknowledges the need for more work. “Since his first day in office, President Obama has worked to lay the foundation for economic growth that creates good jobs and incomes for all Americans,” the report reads.
“Many of these policies have been particularly important for women. These policies have helped stave off a second Great Depression and get our economy growing again, but job growth is still not fast enough. The President is committed to continuing to push for an economy that provides economic security and jobs for America’s women.”
Critics, however, diverge from the president’s bright outlook, and question the focus on women.
Economist Mark Perry, visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller that the lack of attention to the economic problems of men has been foolish.
“My initial impression of the report is that it completely ignores all of the significant and disproportionate hardships faced by men in the recession. We just went through an unprecedented ‘mancession,’ and it’s still not over,” Perry wrote in an e-mail to TheDC.
“[W]omen have done far better, due to career choices and being in industries less affected by recessions (health care and education), and being much better educated, etc,” he said noting that women have been outperforming men in the acquisition of degrees, earning 57.2 percent of college degrees awarded, 60.3 percent of master’s degrees, and 51.6 percent of doctor’s degrees.
It is difficult to deny, when looking at the numbers, that men have felt the effects of the recession more than their female counter parts. Perry notes that the most recent gap between male and female joblessness is 1.90 percent — high, but still below the peak August 2009 2.7 percent disparity.
Experts explain that the difference in unemployment is due largely to the fact that men make up many of the industries hit hardest by the recession, such as construction, finance, and manufacturing, while female-dominated fields, such as health care and education, have not felt the effects of the recession as much.
Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, believes that the current focus on women is tied to the election and the administration’s “get out the vote” efforts.
“Women overwhelmingly voted for president Obama two years ago, I think it was like 56 percent. And so that is a target,” Rugy said. “You put a target on people you can get [to vote].”
The timing of the report’s release is extremely suspect, echoed Amy Siskind, president and founder of the feminist advocacy group The New Agenda.
“The Democrats are trying to go after voters that are traditionally loyal to the party,” Siskind said. “What has happened under this president and this administration is that women sort of feel like their issues have not been addressed, economic or otherwise with this president.”