By Annalyn Kurtz
The gap between men and women workers is narrowing as hiring remains strong in the female-dominated health care industry.
Forget the "mancession" or the "he-covery." Men suffered the biggest job losses in the financial crisis, and also gained the most post-recession jobs.
But now, men and women have equal footing in the recovery.
As of November, both genders have gained back half the jobs they lost in the financial crisis, according to Labor Department data.
The recession hit male-dominated industries like construction and manufacturing, far harder than female-dominated industries like health care and education. As a result, men lost 6.2 million jobs between early 2007 and 2010, accounting for two thirds of all the jobs lost in the crisis.
Both layoffs and the recovery seem to have caught up with women later than men. By November, women gained a slight edge over men, recovering 53 percent of the 2.8 million jobs they lost during the financial crisis.
Their biggest gains have been in education and health care, and professional services.
"We're happy that both men and women are gaining, especially after they were going in different directions in the recession," said Jeff Hayes, a senior research associate with the Institute for Women's Policy Research, who published a short research paper on the data.
Hayes said that the recession has narrowed the gap between the number of men and women workers. At the official start of the recession in December 2007, there were 3.4 million more men working than women. Now that gap is down to 1.7 million.
Meanwhile, the outlook for construction hinges on the housing recovery. Construction alone accounted for more than 2 million jobs lost in the crisis, and most of those jobs have still not come back. About 91 percent of construction workers are men.
The data come from a survey of a 141,000 businesses and government agencies throughout the country. A smaller survey of households, also conducted by the Labor Department, shows similar results for men and even stronger job gains for women.
According to the household data, men had a 7.9 percent unemployment rate in November, while for women, it was 7.6 percent.
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