July 17 2012
The Market, Not Government, Should Determine Who Gets Jobs
Carrie L. Lukas
I was disappointed when the Romney campaign pushed the charge that the Obama economic program was uniquely bad for women since women supposedly suffered 92 percent of job losses that occurred during the administration. Regardless of whether the stat was technically accurate or not, it failed to capture the fact that men suffered most of the job loss in the early part of the recession so women had more jobs to lose later. This line also embraced a war-of-the-sexes mentality about the economy — as if men and women are on competing teams with conflicting interests — when the reality is that the country needs opportunities for everyone to prosper.
This new article is likely to stir up more debate on who is suffering most in our dismal economy and why.
The L.A. Times reports that men are getting the overwhelming majority of the new jobs. In part this is driven by the hard-hit manufacturing and construction sectors perking up while the female-dominated public sector contracts. But men are also entering professions such as retail that traditionally have been dominated by women. As the L.A. Times details, this is bad news both for women, who now have to compete with men for these jobs, and for men, since it indicates they have given up looking for work in other higher-paying sectors because of gloomy prospects.
Liberals will likely use this new data to suggest that we need more government-directed stimulus focused on the public sector to bolster women’s job prospects. Yet this is exactly the wrong direction both for the economy and for creating a level playing field for the sexes. Just about the only time when our interests would conflict is when the government attempts to stimulate hiring for one sex or the other.
Investors and businesses today have to spend too much of their time guessing where government is going to start pouring resources: Is it to union-backed manufacturing shops, or will female-heavy public-sector jobs be deemed the most politically advantageous and get lavished with taxpayer support?
Financial fortunes hinge on these questions. It’s an inefficient way to allocate resources, as well as plainly unfair. Economic ups and downs will always have winners and losers. Yet a free market will give everyone a chance to compete and increase the number of winners, regardless of sex.