Lunch Time Must Reads: Gender, Employment and the Public Sector

Catherine Rampell at The New York Times explores recent claims made in the Presidential campaign about job loss by gender.

Mitt Romney has been saying all along that he wants smaller government. On Tuesday, he added that he was angry that so many women have lost jobs in the last three years. But one thing that happens when you shrink government is that women lose jobs.

That’s the fundamental political and economic paradox that Mr. Romney is facing. As my colleague Trip Gabriel reports, Mr. Romney has been pointing to the fact that 92.3 percent of the net total of jobs lost since President Obama took office in January 2009 belonged to women.

Meanwhile, back in Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says school boards, not his policies, are to blame for rising property taxes.

Pennsylvanians who are concerned about rising school taxes should take their complaints to local school boards, not the state government, Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday.

To be clear, school boards haven't just been raising property taxes to deal with budget shortfalls induced by a combination of high unemployment, expiring Federal Recovery Act aid AND state budget cuts. Over the course of 2011, they also shed thousands of workers.

Which, of course, brings us back to the politics. As Bryce Covert and Mike Konczal argue

The 11 states that the Republicans took over in 2010 laid off, on average, 2.5 percent of their government workforces in a single year. This is compared to the overall average of 0.5 percent for the rest of the states.

Public-sector job losses in Pennsylvania helped move Pennsylvania from the top 10 of states in terms of job growth in January 2011 to 35th in January 2012. 

Most of the public-sector job losses (13,900) were education related (state and local). In Pennsylvania, as in the rest of the country, the vast majority of Education, Training and Library Occupations are held by women.

The concentration of women in the public sector is a key reason why unemployment rates for women in Pennsylvania have not improved as much as they have for men. 

And finally, as Princeton Labor Economist Betsey Stevenson notes, large scale public-sector job losses have not normally occurred during previous recoveries in the United States.

Job growth in this recovery could have been stronger if policymakers in Washington provided additional aid to state and local governments and if Pennsylvania policymakers had not left unspent more than half a billion in state tax revenue.

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