You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Re-Thinking the Mancession

Continuing Catherine Rampell's series charting the employment recession, here are some more graphs from a new paper by St. Louis Fed economists Kristie Engemann and Howard J. Wall. What's interesting about Engemann and Wall's approach is that besides just tallying job losses, they also try to take into account foregone jobs, or those job gains that would have occurred if there had been no recession:

Typically, the effects of a recession on employment are seen as simply the difference between the levels of employment at the start and end of a recessionary period...This assumes, though, that there would have been zero employment growth even if there had been no recession. However, the recession not only causes a drop in employment from the pre-recession level, it also prevents employment growth that would have occurred. This “foregone” employment is also an effect of the recession and needs to be accounted for in an analysis of the recession’s total effects on employment.

As it happens, the upshot of this approach is to make some of the themes of the current recession a little less newsworthy. For example, this chart shows that the much-discussed mancession is less extreme than the raw numbers suggest:

This next chart shows that a more extreme mancession occurred in 1980, and that the 2001 tech bust was the only downturn since 1974 in which women suffered more than men (when taking into account foregone job gains):

Interestingly, a more extreme version of the mancession shows up when you only look at whites:

This next chart looks at adjusted employment effects by age group. The job gains by older Americans -- another news theme -- drop sharply, and job losses by slightly-less-than-older Americans rise sharply when taking into account foregone job growth:

And this last chart shows that although college graduates have actually gained raw jobs this recession, the adjusted effect of the downturn leaves them as bad off as those in most lower education groups: