First, the back story: After a crazy week of watching the Republican National Convention, and yelling at chairs and TV screens, I decided to take today off, lounge and do some light reading. My guilty pleasure is reading fashion/decor magazines. So I spent much of the morning in bed with the huge September fall-fashion issue of Elle. On page 382, though, politics popped up--in a fabulous section where Elle editors declared a "War FOR Women." The pages are packed full of facts and inspiration for women voting, running for office, and donating to candidates with our best interests and rights front of mind.
Suddenly, I was inspired to join this War FOR Women force in every way I can—both blogging on the JFP site, in social media, in special sections and articles in the Jackson Free Press, and here on the site.
First, I'll start by sharing a statistic that everyone needs to understand, per Elle: "Of the 683,000 jobs lost by women since 2009, 64 percent have been public-sector jobs.
It simply makes me crazy that so many people do not understand that every cut to government spending affects jobs and, thus, our economy. That doesn't mean that I don't want cuts: I consider myself a fiscal moderate and I believe in smart, yet compassionate government spending. And smart spending that helps stimulate our economy and, like the smartest businesspeople, invest in the nation's future (as Bush and Obama did with the auto bailout, which turned out to be a very good investment of government money, although at the time we had to spend). Every actual business person knows that running anything like a business often means investing by borrowing money or having smart debt, although you wouldn't know to hear the political anti-government rhetoric from the right.
Anyway, I hadn't seen these numbers on the jobs that women have lost -- even though I had heard Mitt Romney's rhetoric about the recession hitting the women harder than men--which isn't actually true.
What Romney isn't saying, but Factcheck.org explains in detail, is that while women have more jobs in the recession since Obama came to office, most of those are government jobs--the very jobs Republicans want so desperately to cut. And think about it: Right here in MIssissippi, and Jackson especially, so many of our jobs are public sector, with no small number dependent on federal dollars. Imagine if the Paul Ryans of the world get their way and just start slashing. What happens to jobs of women and men right here in Mississippi? The same thing that has been happening. That's why stimulus is so vital.
Here's more of what Factcheck said about Romney's cynical "war on women" claim:
Looking back at the whole recession, men have lost many more jobs than women. But the biggest job losses for men came earlier in the recession, and recovery for men has come faster than it has for women. ... What the graph shows clearly, and the numbers back up, is that men took a bigger hit than women, and the decline in jobs for men began much earlier. The downturn in male employment began in May 2007 — a full seven months before the official start (in December 2007) of what became the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Female employment continued to rise for 10 months after the downturn in male employment, and it peaked in March 2008.
By the time Obama took office in January 2009, both male and female employment were in a steep decline that continued for over a year. Male employment hit bottom in February 2010, and female employment continued to slump for another seven months, bottoming out in September 2010. And as the chart clearly shows, the job recovery for women not only started later, the rate of recovery has been slower.
Why is that? “If you look back to the start of the recession, many of the industries (construction and manufacturing) that were very hard hit initially were male-dominated,” said Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, in an interview with FactCheck.org.
It wasn’t until later that jobs like retail and government jobs, particularly teaching jobs, began to take a hit, affecting women more, Dorfman said. Those jobs have been slower to recover.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor under George W. Bush, says Romney’s statistic isn’t properly focused. She notes that the unemployment rate for women has been about one full percentage point below the unemployment rate for men for much of the recession. It is only fairly recently that the gender gap has begun to close. The unemployment rate is now 8.3 percent for men, 8.1 percent for women.
Then Factcheck actually cites higher numbers than Elle did, saying 76 percent of the jobs women have lost have been government jobs:
Betsey Stevenson, a former chief economist for the Department of Labor under Obama, said that while men have fared somewhat better than women in the private sector, most of the phenomenon cited by Romney can be tied to a loss of government jobs.
About 78 percent of the decline in people on payrolls has been a decline in government employment, said Stevenson, now an assistant professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. And, she said, women have absorbed 76 percent of the net decline in government jobs.
“The recovery has not been particularly good for women, but a primary reason is the unprecedented decline in government jobs, particularly the loss of workers in education,” Stevenson wrote to us in an email. “It’s also the case that men bore the brunt of the job losses in the depths of the recession and are now yielding more of the benefits of jobs being added back in manufacturing and other areas where they experienced massive job loss.”
Keep an out for more War FOR Women blog posts, and I'm going to use hashtag #warforwomen on Twitter; I suggest all of you join me, whether men or women.