Author: Neil Harrington
Males make up nearly 60 percent of employment in exposed industry subgroups, about nine percentage points more than their share of total employment in North Carolina. Women’s total employment, on the other hand, is about nine percentage points higher than their share of exposed industry employment. Societal norms around who does physical, labor-intensive work at least partially explains the overrepresentation of men in exposed industries. For example, most manufacturing outfits feature physical, labor-intensive work, which, historically, many people have thought of only men being capable of. Resultingly, males’ share of total employment in manufacturing has not dipped below 60 percent since 1997 and was well above 50 percent before that.
Research shows labor force nonparticipation among prime working age men has been increasing for decades, due in part to previous waves of automation, job polarization, and decreased demand for “middle-skilled” labor. As new technologies continue to increase productivity in workplaces and disrupt labor markets, automation could further disrupt men’s labor market participation, making these trends worse.