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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Generated at: 01:41PM 04/06/2011 EDT

Women Bearing Brunt of Job Cuts as U.S. States Balance Budgets

By Esmé E. Deprez and Holly Rosenkrantz | April 06, 2011 12:01AM ET

(Bloomberg) -- For Dawn Willis, an unemployed social studies teacher in Jackson, New Jersey, the recession that ended in June 2009 isn’t over.

“I find it hard to believe we’re in a recovery,” Willis, 39, said in an interview in the home she bought 14 months before losing her job to budget cuts. “I really
don’t feel like that. I’m not seeing it.”

Women-dominated fields such as teaching and home health care are in the
crosshairs as governors cut education and social services to resolve budget
deficits that may total $112 billion in the coming fiscal year. Females have
already lost 72 percent of the 378,000 federal, state and local government jobs
eliminated from July 2009 to March, according to Labor Department data
compiled by Bloomberg.

Men lost the most jobs during the recession, which began in December 2007.
Since its end, women have been faring worse. Taking private-sector gains into
account, women have a net loss of 212,000 jobs from July 2009 through last
month, Labor Department data show. Men added 757,000 jobs in that time.

“Women’s employment continues to lag in this recovery and that’s largely being
driven by the substantial cutbacks in public-sector jobs where women
predominate,” Joan Entmacher, vice president at the National Women’s Law
Center in Washington, said in a telephone interview. They’ll take the biggest hit
as lawmakers demand concessions from public workers and seek curbs to
collective bargaining, she said.

‘Wrecking Ball’

Last month, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder stripped collective bargaining rights
from home-based child-care workers, 94 percent of whom are female. A law
championed by fellow Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, which
has been challenged in court, curtailed collective bargaining for teachers, and
revoked them for University of Wisconsin hospital and home health aides and Enlarge
day-care providers. Firefighters and police are exempt. They are 98 percent and
81 percent male, respectively.

“They are taking a wrecking ball to what have traditionally been female-dominated professions,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of
Teachers, said in an interview. “It feels like all that we’ve learned about competitive marketplaces and how women should be able to compete fairly in the
marketplace -- all of that has gone backward.”

Toughest Yet

By limiting salary costs, the union laws will forestall dismissals and tax increases, saving money as revenue
lags behind pre-recession levels, said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Related Agency:
Washington research group that advocate limits on labor power. That helps both sexes, she said. » Bureau of Labor Statistics

“The current system is unsustainable,” said Furchtgott- Roth, who was chief economist at the Labor Related States:
Department under President George W. Bush, and co-wrote “The Feminist Dilemma: When Success is Not » State of Wisconsin
Enough.” » State of New Jersey
» State of Ohio
“Women are the winners in all this,” she said. » State of Indiana

This will be the “toughest” year yet for local governments, Moody’s Investors Service said in a March 16 report. Related People:
Municipal revenue is running below 2008 levels, even as pension, health care and operations costs rise, » Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
Moody’s said. » New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
» Ohio Governor John Kasich
Local government has the highest concentration of female workers of any public sector, at 62 percent. Females » Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
compose 57 percent of federal, state and local government workers, Labor Department data show.

Closing the Gap

Many public-sector occupations such as teaching and nursing are female-dominated “in part because they were the caring professions, and also in part
because they didn’t pay as much, and so men didn’t jump to them first,” said Amy B. Dean of Chicago, a former AFL-CIO official who co-authored “A New New
Deal,” a book about reshaping the labor movement.

Gutting collective bargaining threatens to bleed unions of cash and power. That jeopardizes benefits such as flexible work hours and maternity leave, and the
progress that’s been made in closing the gender wage gap, according to Entmacher of the National Women’s Law Center.

In 2010, female union members earned 89 cents for every dollar their male counterparts did, according to the Labor Department. Non-unionized women made
81 cents on the dollar.

Willis, the New Jersey teacher, said that after eight years in the classroom, she’s considering switching careers. She’s the first in her family to graduate from
college, an act her father discouraged because “a woman’s place is in the home.”

Feeding the Dogs

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Women Bearing Brunt of Job Cuts as U.S. States Balance Budgets

Willis grew up “dirt poor” in Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, and is also the family’s first to own a home. She said she’s “petrified” she’ll lose that, too.
When bill collectors ask whether there’s anyone she can borrow from, she explains she’s the sole breadwinner for herself and her three dogs, Penelope,
Calypso, and Athena.

“I’ve always been very optimistic, but now I’m starting to swing the other way,” she said.

Her field has been a target. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed reducing the city’s 75,000 educators by 6,166, including 4,666 dismissals.
That’s even before Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget cuts aid to school districts by about $1.25 billion. The mayor is founder and majority owner
of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich’s spending plan would cost 7,000 teachers their jobs, according to Innovation Ohio, a Columbus group that lobbies for
the poor and middle class.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, has cut school aid by $1.3 billion since taking office in January 2010. Eighty percent of districts have
reduced the number of teachers this academic year, according to Frank Belluscio, a spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association.

‘Vicious Cycle’

Public education is dominated by women, who made up about 76 percent of teachers in the 2007-08 school year, according to the Department of Education.

It’s a “vicious cycle, because if you lay off schoolteachers, then that means after-school programs are gone too,” Heather Boushey, an economist at the Center
for American Progress in Washington, said in a telephone interview. Women, who are more likely to head single-parent households, she said, will be caught in
a bind as the social services they rely on become targets for cutbacks, too.

The 2011-2013 budget proposed by Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, calls for $4.1 billion in cuts, including a suspension of wage
increases for teachers and a reduction in maternity care services for high-risk mothers and children.

Rachel Ragatz was dismissed from her first full-time job at a landscape architecture firm in Sacramento, California, in January 2008. She was one of five
people, all women, to see their jobs eliminated as long-term construction dried up.

The 27-year old, who will soon begin a doctorate in civil engineering, brings home a quarter the pay she did before, she said in a telephone interview from

That’s stalled her plans to wed and start a family, she said. “It feels like a steep slope just got steeper.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Esmé E. Deprez in New York at; Holly Rosenkrantz in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at


Fields dominated by women, such as teaching and home health care, are targets as governors cut education and social services.
Governors are facing budget deficits that may total $112 billion in the coming fiscal year. Local government, where revenue is running below 2008 levels, has
the highest concentration of female workers in the public sector.
Winners or Losers
Women are 57 percent of government workers and lost 72 percent of the 378,000 government jobs eliminated from July 2009 through March. Women who
are in unions earn 34 percent more than those who aren't.
While men lost the majority of jobs during the recession, they have been regaining work more rapidly than women since the recovery began.

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