Retail’s struggles are falling entirely on women

In The News

By Marc Bain

As if the persistent wage gap between women and men weren’t enough, women have also been disproportionately hammered by the wave of job losses hitting US retail.

Between October 2016 and October 2017, the retail industry lost 54,300 jobs, according to an analysis of US Census data by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). That net decline is tied directly to the jobs lost by women. During that period, women lost 160,300 jobs, while men actually gained 106,000 jobs.

The analysis looked back at retail employment since just before the recession in 2008. Generally, changes in the number of jobs held by men have preceded a similar trend for women. Men’s employment started to fall in 2007, and then women’s followed. Men’s employment then rebounded in 2010, and women’s picked up after. But 2017 has diverged completely from that pattern.

The IWPR first noticed the trend last year and started tracking it. “Now we have a year of data,” Heidi Hartmann, an economist and president of the IWPR, tells Quartz, “and it’s quite pronounced.”

“It’s like women got coal in their stockings for Christmas,” she adds.

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