A She-covery In Sight?

Roosevelt Institute’s New Deal 2.0 editor Bryce Covert had an excellent summary of gender and the recovery over at the Nation: One Mancession Later, Are Women Really Victors in the New Economy?  Trying to figure out why women’s job growth have been lagging in 2010-2011 has been a bit of a industry in the econoblogosphere, and Covert brings together the debate.

But is this changing?  David Leonhardt has a post up at Economix, Has the He-covery Become a She-covery?, which features the following argument and graph:

For nearly all of 2010 and 2011, job growth was stronger for men than for women, causing Catherine Rampell and others to refer to the recovery as a “he-covery.” But in the last few months, the trend has turned around: since December, job growth has been significantly stronger for women than men…

A slight problem with how that data is shown in the graph above.  That graph is from the household survey.  In the December jobs numbers there was a big change in the employment numbers as a result of the annual benchmarking process and the updating of seasonal adjustment factors:

Effective with data for January 2012, updated population estimates which reflect the results of Census 2010 have been used in the household survey. Population estimates for the household survey are developed by the U.S. Census Bureau. Each year, the Census Bureau updates the estimates to reflect new information and assumptions about the growth of the population during the decade….In accordance with usual practice, BLS will not revise the official household survey estimates for December 2011 and earlier months…The adjustment increased the estimated size of the civilian noninstitutional population in December by 1,510,000, the civilian labor force by 258,000, employment by 216,000, unemployment by 42,000, and persons not in the labor force by 1,252,000….

Data users are cautioned that these annual population adjustments affect the comparability of household data series over time.

Employment went up 216,000 as a result of these changes, and they were all put in that month instead of smoothed across the year (“in accordance with usual practices” above). Now what it doesn’t say is that while employment was adjusted up 216,000, men were adjusted down 368,000 jobs while women were adjusted up 584,000 jobs. So December had women gaining 584,000 jobs as a result of statistical population adjustments that, in reality, should have been smooth across a longer time frame.

I was happy to see this, as I had spent some time last fall trying to figure out why the household numbers were so different from the business survey when divided out by gender – this helped bring them back in sync.  But this is what is pushing up the six-month average in the graph above starting in January 2012 – not a sudden rush of actual job growth by women.

Instead of the household survey if you look at the business survey, you see that men are always gaining more jobs across all time since the recovery took off:

There’s still an open question about how to understand this.

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4 Responses to A She-covery In Sight?

  1. David Wiczer says:

    About differences between CES and CPS statistics:
    So one of the systematic differences between the establishment and household surveys is the inclusion of self-employed and small business in the household. We know that fluctuates over the business cycle: self-employed are counter-cyclical. You think that effect is asymmetrical across genders?

  2. Pingback: Around The Dial – March 14, 2012 | South By North Strategies, Ltd.

  3. Timothy says:

    This is a simplistic spin on it but the employment curve for men correlates almost perfectly with the recent economic fortunes of the male-dominated automotive industry specifically and manufacturing in general.

    The last monthly US SAAR above 16 million was in December, 2007. The per capita rate for auto SAAR hit a historic low of 3.0% in February, 2009. The SAAR slowly recovered from there and finally jumped above 11 million again in March, 2010. Last year’s dip seems to coincide well with the production cuts caused by the supply chain disruptions in Japan.

    Look to Detroit. It goes without saying that we never had anything like 2009 before. It’s not the whole story but surely has more than a little to do with divergence.

  4. Peter Force says:

    So…are women more likely to start small businesses and work for themselves because they are perceived (important word) as being more likely to need more flexible working arrangements by employers?

    Or am I reading this all wrong?

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