Recessions generally affect the jobs of men; this one is different.
It’s been dubbed a “she-cession.” The reality is that women bore the brunt of the first round of COVID-19 job losses in Canada, which numbered more than 1 million in March.
Women accounted for more than 60% of job losses in the country that month. Closures of schools and childcare centers, among other blows to the service sector, has been cited as the main factor. Yet figures for April are due shortly, and they may well tell a different story, reflecting a much broader and gender-neutral impact to the economy.
“(The impact) will be far more widespread and we will see more industries that are connected to men’s jobs affected,” Armine Yalnizyan, a research fellow at the Atkinson Foundation, told Bloomberg.
According to estimates, Canada likely lost more than 4 million jobs last month, representing a fifth of the workforce and by far the largest decrease in monthly employment on record. One sector that could see a significant hit in the April numbers is construction, which suffered little in March before companies began reporting considerable layoffs.
Recessions generally hit male workers harder because good producing sectors like construction and manufacturing tend to be more sensitive to the business cycle, resulting in something akin to an 80/20 gender split in job losses. Yet this also means that such sectors tend to bounce back more quickly as the economy recovers, with the service sector prone to longer term slumps. Discussions around the reopening of the economy already suggest more male centric businesses will open up first, although the effects of the move won’t be visible until we have the May numbers at the very earliest.
The bad news for women is that service jobs, such as in schools and childcare centers, are likely to be some of the last places to recover amid the pandemic.