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Moms Become Breadwinners As Job Losses Hit Men

May 10, 2009 (Weekend Edition Sunday)

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Legions of women will have little time to mark Mother's Day this year. They will be busy working weekend jobs as they step up to being their families' primary wage earners.

Economists say this recession is reshaping the financial roles of millions of women whose husbands have lost jobs. Since the recession began in December 2007, about 5.7 million jobs have disappeared in the United States. About 4 out of 5 of those jobs were held by men. That's because the heaviest employment cuts have been concentrated in construction, manufacturing and financial services, where male workers predominate.

The uneven impact of the recession shows up in the unemployment data. On Friday, the Labor Department said the overall jobless rate in April was 8.9 percent. But for adult men, the rate was 9.4 percent; for adult women, it was just 7.1 percent.

But it's not as if women are sitting pretty. In the first quarter of this year, the median income for an adult woman was $679 a week. That means women still earned just 77 cents for every dollar made by men.

Benefits are uneven, too. Medical insurance, pensions and paid vacations are typically tied to jobs held by men, especially in blue-collar households where union membership helps provide benefits.

To help their families through the recession, more working women are taking second jobs, according to CareerBuilder's annual Mother's Day survey taken by among women who work full time and have children under 18. The job-search company found that 14 percent of working mothers have taken on second jobs in the last year to beef up household income.

"More than anything, working moms want the gift of time this Mother's Day," Mary Delaney, president of CareerBuilder's recruitment outsourcing division, said in a statement about the survey. "Nearly one-third say that despite it being one of the toughest economies in the nation's history, they would even consider taking a pay cut to spend more time with their kids," she said.

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