More women as breadwinners in this economy?

Filed in Uncategorized by on July 7, 2009 0 Comments

The recession has hit traditionally male jobs hard. So does that mean women are bearing more of the wage earner burden?

We got to thinking about that after seeing a national report arguing the recession’s left “millions of women nationwide to be the primary breadwinner” and citing federal data showing “men account for 74.2 percent of all jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007.”

We’re kicking around story ideas here at MPR along those lines. Post below or tell us your story if you’re in a family situation where the main wage earner has shifted because of the recession (doesn’t have to be male to female, by the way).

We’ve heard today from a few families in our Public Insight Network where women are the primary wage earners. That includes Kathleen Spehar Hansen, an arts administrator in St. Paul who told us she’s long earned more than her husband, an adjunct professor and small business owner. In the last five years, she says:

I’ve taken on the breadwinner status and the balance has really shifted in the last year, due to my ability to stabilize my wage level and keep us solvent — no matter what happens with his employment, we’ll be okay.

The breadwinner label, she adds can put “enormous responsibility on the results of one partner, which can skew the power and balance between both partners contributing equally to the relationship.”

Back in April, Public Insight Network source Susan Haugen of Edina gave us a look at how things have shifted in her family. she wrote:

My husband was laid off 4 weeks ago…On the other side of the coin, my job is getting much bigger. I work for a company who had to form a Bank Holding Company in order to qualify for TARP funds. I am paid hourly, so this downturn is affecting me positively. As my hours increase we are very glad that Mr Mom is home to pick up the slack.

She also gave us an intriguing list of pros and cons that go along with the shift. Check it out here.

We’ll try and check in with her this summer to see how things are going.

Got a story about how the economy is affecting your household structure? Tell us. And check out the map below to read what other people are telling us about money issues.

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I'm a news junkie with particular interests in the economy and education. I covered those topics for 20 years as a reporter in Connecticut, Washington, DC, South Carolina and Minnesota. I'm at Minnesota Public Radio News now, hoping to find new w

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