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Women hurt equally by tough economy

A woman gets a pink slip and considers her next move.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: The Bureau of Labor Statistics only gets a turn in the news spotlight a couple of times a month, mostly on the days when it tells us about inflation numbers or the unemployment rate. Today, it's an unemployment report of a different sort.

The Congressional Joint Economic Committee has been analyzing data from the bureau and a study out today says the percentage of women in the workforce has fallen for the first time since the 1960s.

Researchers had assumed that was because more women were staying at home on purpose to take care of the kids, run the household -- you get the idea. Turns out though, that the idea was wrong.

Marketplace's Renita Jablonski has more.


Renita Jablonski: Michele Whitney just found out she might have a couple more days of temp work this week. It's a relief. Her family's "do not" list seems to be getting longer and longer.

Michele Whitney: You know, got rid of the digital cable box, took my daughter out of day care.

Michele's husband Shawn adds to the list.

Shawn Whitney: Don't go out much, don't eat steak anymore, we stopped garbage service collection; we take it ourselves.

The Whitneys can't afford those things without Michele's salary. The 34-year-old lost her job at a mortgage company in August.

New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is vice-chair of the committee that released today's study.

Carolyn Maloney: A popular theory has been that women were leaving the labor force to spend more time with their families, but it turns out they were really pushed out.

In the past, each economic recovery ended with more women working. They now contribute about a third of a family's income.

Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, says this decade, women are making gains in a different way.

Ellen Galinsky: It sadly is the new equality with men that women are being hurt by the economy in the way men always have been.

Shari Robinson was laid-off from her bank job in 2006. The Clevelander doesn't need a study to tell her what's happening.

Shari Robinson: It's hard in northeast Ohio, in this area of the country, for both men and women. I don't think anybody's getting a free ride.

Robinson has two job interviews this week.

I'm Renita Jablonski for Marketplace.

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