December 30, 2011 · 0 Comments
By Lauren Kelley:
In case you haven’t heard, women have been getting the economic shaft lately. While it’s true that this economy has been bad for pretty much everyone, the most recent phase of our economic slump has disproportionately affected women. Today, via the New York Times, we see evidence of this “womancession”:
Workers are dropping out of the labor force in droves, and they are mostly women. In fact, many are young women. But they are not dropping out forever; instead, these young women seem to be postponing their working lives to get more education. There are now — for the first time in three decades — more young women in school than in the work force….
Many economists initially thought that the shrinking labor force — which drove down November’s unemployment rate— was caused primarily by discouraged older workers giving up on the job market. Instead, many of the workers on the sidelines are young people upgrading their skills….
The article notes that “young women in their late teens and early 20’s view today’s economic lull as an opportunity to upgrade their skills,” while “their male counterparts are more likely to take whatever job they can find.” I’d argue that there may be more “desperation” than “opportunity” going on here, and I worry about what this will mean for young women after they graduate into a likely still weak job market with a significant debt burden. As this community college administrator explained to the Times, those fears are not unfounded:
“Our funding per student has been cut 25 percent in the last three years,” said Stephen Scott, the president of Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, N.C., which is one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the country. Consequently, class sizes have risen, and so has tuition. But the students — again, mostly women — still pour in.