Analysis Shows Women Lost Jobs In Retail Last Year, Though Men Gained

December 24, 2017

By now, you probably have your holiday shopping done. Maybe you did more of it online this year. Easy for you, but bad for your local mall. Brick-and-mortar stores are losing jobs. And it turns out some workers are hit harder than others.

A new analysis shows that last year in retail, women lost jobs while men gained them. Heidi Hartmann, the president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, is one of the authors of that study. She says women in retail lost hundreds of thousands of jobs over the past year, and men gained more than 100,000 jobs.

Hartmann says that “consumer durables” played a role in that trend. Consumers bought more durables, or products that last a long time compared to clothing or cosmetics, such as furniture, appliances or cars — and more men than women tend to sell those big ticket items.

Hartmann spoke with NPR’s Lauren Frayer about the results of the study and the wage disparity between women and men in retail.


Interview Highlights

On the results of the study

We were quite surprised because we think of retail trade as a women’s industry. The biggest losses for women were in general merchandise stores and the biggest gains for men were in the same kind of stores — and that’s the hugest part of retail … I characterize it as women getting coal in their stocking this Christmas season.

On if there’s a wage disparity between men and women in retail

Men make more in retail just the way they make more in almost every industry and every occupation. But you know women have tried for years to get these jobs. Sears actually won a case in the ’70s saying that it wasn’t enough to just show a statistical disparity that there weren’t women in the jobs. That wasn’t enough. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs hadn’t shown intention that Sears didn’t [hire women in those jobs].

On if there’s a disparity when it comes to race or age

Well, there probably are. This data set doesn’t have it. And we vowed that this is so interesting we’re going to take a look in the spring when we can get a different data set that will have all of those demographic variables

Isabel Dobrin from Digital News produced this story for the Web.

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