During Wednesday night's GOP debate, you may have heard presidential aspirant Carly Fiorina make a rather ornate claim against Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, by way of the Obama administration, that "92 percent of the jobs lost under the Obama administration" were jobs held by women.
Fiorina was attempting a later criticism: that Clinton was being "hypocritical" by claiming to support women.
If you are a 2012 nostalgist, you may have recognized the talking point. Seems that Fiorina is warming over an old Mitt Romney line -- one with which fact checkers from Politifact took issue (with the Romney camp returning the favor).
Romney's campaign took Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers from January 2009 to March 2012, for all employees, and for female employees. As Politifact reports, "They then divided the net loss among women by the total net loss and came up with 92.3 percent."
There were numerous problems, not the least of which that Romney was dinging Obama for job losses that occurred during Obama's first month -- a time when no Obama policy could have possibly had an effect on the numbers.
We reached out to Gary Steinberg, spokesman for the BLS, for his take on the claim. He pointed out that women’s job losses are high for that period of time because millions of men had already lost their jobs. Women were next.
"Between January 2009 and March 2012 men lost 57,000 jobs, while women lost 683,000 jobs. This is the reverse of the recession period of December 2007-June 2009 (with an overlap of six months) which saw men lose 5,355,000 jobs and women lose 2,124,000 jobs," Steinberg told us in an email.
Interestingly enough, Gary Burtless, "a labor market expert with the Brookings Institution," noted:
"I think males were disproportionately hurt by employment losses in manufacturing and especially construction, which is particularly male-dominated. A lot of job losses in those two industries had already occurred before Obama took office," he said. "Industries where women are more likely to be employed -– education, health, the government –- fared better in terms of job loss. In fact, health and education employment continued to grow in the recession and in the subsequent recovery. Government employment only began to fall after the private economy (and private employment) began growing again."
As Fiorina is running for the nomination of the "cut the size of government" party, this may be an untenable criticism.
Also making it untenable? It's from three years ago. Using current BLS statisticswould probably prevent one from painting quite so dire a picture.
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