Male unemployment

Was the 'mancession' just a mirage?

July 15, 2011: 11:36 AM ET

Men are regaining jobs at a faster clip than women and they are moving into traditionally female-dominated corners of the job market, an apparent about-face from last year's so-called 'mancession.'

By Elizabeth G. Olson, contributor

FORTUNE -- Last year's catchy economic phrase was "mancession," as it looked like companies were lopping men off their employment rolls and keeping lesser-paid women in an effort to cut back and keep their businesses afloat.

It looks like that trend has made an about-face, at least for now, according to the Pew Research Center, whose new analysis of federal employment data finds that men are regaining jobs at a faster clip -- and that women are losing them. Not only that, the Pew study found that men are making inroads in industries long dominated by women, like nursing and teaching.

There has been a steady increase over the past decade in the percentage of men earning nursing degrees, according to federal data on the number of people completing nursing programs nationwide.

"Men who have spent the past few years retraining for more in-demand RN [registered nurse] jobs are starting to hit the workforce," says Rob Sentz, spokesperson at economic analysis firm Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. The percentage of male nurses climbed from 9.5% in 2003 to 12.2% this year, according to the firm's preliminary findings.

Opportunities for men are increasing as the health care industry expands so it can accommodate America's growing elderly population, says Lydia Ostermeier, current president of the National Association of Health Care Recruiters. Also, registered nurses who have delayed retirement for financial reasons will be leaving the profession, making way for new hires, she notes.

"I just convinced my son to change his major to nursing," says Ostermeier, who also is the director of nursing administration at Indiana University Health. "There is more earnings potential as RNs quickly can move on to jobs like clinical managers." More

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