Local News

Local job scene benefits women more than men

SEBRING - Women have benefited more than men by jobs created in the post-recession economy. That's from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Men have dominated the job market since the beginning of time, but they're getting edged out by women these days.

In 2003, women held 48.6 of the non-farm jobs in the national economy. By 2008 - the beginning of the Great Recession, that number had risen only .1 percent. But by 2013, women held 49.3 percent of all jobs, according to the BLS website.

It's also true in Highlands County, where unemployment dropped from 9.1 percent in July to 8.8 percent in August. Statistics from Alan Grimes, chief information officer at Heartland Workforce, show men held 11,185 jobs in 2009, but only 10,116 in 2012. Local women held 8,629 jobs in 2009 versus 9,769.

That's right, men lost 1,069 jobs; women gained 1,139, and women are now within 347 of holding more jobs than men.

One reason why, says Donna Doubleday, president of Heartland Workforce: "We haven't seen the (construction) rebound yet that I have been hearing about on the coasts."

According to CNNMoney, jobs more typically held by men - construction, manufacturing and trades, for instance - aren't coming back at rate of jobs usually held by either sex. That may be why, after losing 6 million jobs in the Great Recession, men regained only 70 percent. Women? All but 9 percent.

Construction workers originally lost 25 percent of their workforce, CNN said. The latest number is much lower - just 9 percent - but it's not because of a surge in the construction trade. "Roughly 1 million of them appear to have either switched industries or dropped out of the labor force altogether," CNN quoted BLS stats.

Sectors populated with women have been growing more rapidly: education, leisure, hospitality and health care, CNN said.

Even so, statistics from Grimes also showed 526 men lost their jobs in the local retail trade sector, versus 53 women.

Many construction workers have returned to school, retired or left the country, said Ken Simonson, chief economist for Associated General Contractors.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Central Florida construction employment was cut in half, from 92,000 in 2006 to 45,000 in 2011. It has crept back up to 47,000 today.

Next year will be better though, predicted Ron Handley, a Highlands County Commissioner and a home builder.

"On both coasts of Florida, prices are coming up again and work is plentiful. That's what happened (before the last construction boom), so if history follows suit, it should work over our way. And we've already seen a little uptick, so I'm hoping 2014 is the year."