Men, women workplace roles changing with recession

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

MARSHALL, TX (KLTV) - For the first time in American history, women may soon outnumber men in the nation's workplace. Mothers are now the primary providers or co-providers in nearly two-thirds of American families. Economists say these changes are a direct result of the recession. And, it's giving some families some unique challenges.

It's the portrait of an American family. Rick Phillips returned from the Afghanistan war a year ago. He is now facing another battle at home.

"We knew that layoffs were inevitable but I felt like I was recession proof," said Rick Phillips of Marshall. "It was quite surprising to find out I was one of the first to be laid off in the department."

His wife, Kimberly, is now the only breadwinner.

"We wasn't expecting it," said Kimberly Phillips. "He goes in one day, and that's it!"

"I do feel like I'm less of a man because I'm not providing for my family currently," said Rick Phillips.

The Phillips aren't alone. The Department of Labor reports women now make up nearly half the American workforce. When the recession began, men and women shared an unemployment rate of four percent. 10.3 percent of men are now unemployed. Nearly eight percent of women are jobless.

"If a female is going to do the job as well as the male and if she's making less money because she came in with a lower salary - it's just common sense: the man will be laid off," said Rick Phillips.

"Family systems are like a mobile," said Laurie Ann Frank, a family counselor. "Then, if something changes, it shakes up the whole family system. The whole family system is affected. Roles change, people go through depression, sadness. It changes their entire life."

The changes aren't without their challenges.

"It's still making me feel a lot of pressure," said Rick Phillips. "I find it's growing everyday."

Kimberly will take her new role, what many American women call an opportunity, each day at a time. Rick says he remains positive he will find a job soon. He is reaching out to contacts, and meeting with an employment agency to find work.

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