U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Skip Header

The Impact of the 2007-2009 Recession on Mothers’ Employment

Written by:
Working Paper Number SEHSD-WP2011-29


In all recent recessions, men’s unemployment has been higher than women’s because they are disproportionately likely to be concentrated in cyclical industries such as construction and manufacturing. This recession has been particularly severe for men and women, as they are both experiencing unprecedented levels of long-term unemployment, along with declining wages. Because of the severity of the recession, married mothers of young children may have increased their labor force participation to compensate for their husbands’ under- or unemployment. Using 2006 and 2010 American Community Survey data, I show that married mothers’ increased labor force participation likely occurred in households that were less economically disadvantaged prior to the recession. The demand for married women’s employment should have been stronger in households where men were employed in industries that were hard-hit by the recession. However, employment rates were lower among women married to men with lower earnings who are or were employed in construction and agriculture, the two industries with the highest levels of unemployment. Because their wives were less likely to be employed prior to the start of the recession, they may have been at a stronger disadvantage in obtaining employment in a tight labor market without recent job experience.

Related Information

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
Is this page helpful?
Thumbs Up Image Yes Thumbs Down Image No
255 characters maximum 255 characters maximum reached
Thank you for your feedback.
Comments or suggestions?


Back to Header