Gender Gap May Return as U.S. Jobs Favor Women: Chart of the Day

Women are better positioned than men for work in the U.S. economy even though a record-setting gender gap in joblessness has been closed, according to Neil Dutta, an economist at Bank of America Corp.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows the unemployment rates for men and women at least 16 years old, according to data compiled by the Labor Department. Last month, the jobless rate for female workers was lower by 0.1 percentage point at 8.2 percent. In January, the rates for both sexes were the same, 8.3 percent.

This year’s figures erased a gap that peaked at 2.6 points in May 2009, when a greater proportion of men were out of work. The differential was the largest since the government started tracking the numbers in 1948.

“It’s a function of manufacturing coming back strong and mining doing really well,” Dutta said yesterday in a telephone interview. Men have benefited more from the industries’ growth than women because they traditionally do most of the jobs, the New York-based economist added.

Even so, women are more likely to stay in school and get the college education needed for jobs in health care and other expanding industries, according to Dutta. He highlighted this trend in a report published on March 6, during International Women’s Week.

“The problems for men are mounting,” he said. “They just don’t have the skills for today’s labor force.”

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