Where Women Work and What Unemployed Women Do

The Upshot is one my first reads of the day. Best new section of the New York Times by far. They had two great articles in the past two days. There is so much data to be unpacked. Loves it.

Yesterday’s article was about the differences in time-use studies between unemployed women and men. There’s a lot of info in that chart, but the main take away is that unemployed men are unhealthy, watch a lot of TV, and spend a lot of time looking for a job. Unemployed women spend most of their time caring for others and doing housework. They are healthier than when they worked.

Today, they have a map of where working women are most common. The upper mid-west and New England have the highest proportion of working women.

These numbers are tough to unpack. Are women unemployed, because they live in wealthy communities that support stay-at-home mothers and have spouses with high paying careers? Or are they full time parents, because the obstacles to work are too high? Are they caring for elementary aged children with relative ease or are they caring for multiple aging adults and special needs kids?

If unemployed women have a full range of choices and are financially affluent, then there doesn’t seem to be a problem. Choices were freely and happily made. If unemployed women are facing the same dismal job market as men and can’t afford childcare or eldercare, then there’s a real problem. The fact that the employment of women has a geographic pattern makes me think that childcare policies and job opportunities are major issues. The Upper Midwest and New England have more progressive policies for parents.

One thought on “Where Women Work and What Unemployed Women Do

  1. That is a really interesting map. My anecdotal personal experience in the upper Midwest (WI) is that most of my female friends do work. I don’t know about corporate policies, but the overall general culture seems more family-friendly than when I lived in the DC area. There also seem to be more part-time opportunities. (I work 30 hours/week). There is also a low unemployment rate, so if you want to work, you can usually find a job. I also notice that lots of people here live near family. We are transplants, but most of our friends grew up here. I suspect having that back-up childcare helps a lot.

    BUT the windchill is -32 today. High temps won’t go above zero today. Trade-offs, I tell you.


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