Retail Job Losses Hit Women Hardest

The holiday season was surprisingly successful for America’s embattled retail sector. But women working in the industry got “coal in their stockings” for Christmas.

That’s the conclusion of a recent report by the Institute for Women’s Policy and Research, which found that women are bearing the brunt of shakeout in the retail industry where “brick-and-mortar” stores are shutting down and sales are moving online.

Women Suffer Losses: With a net loss of 54,300 jobs in 2017, retail has shed more workers than any other US industry for two years in a row. But the dislocation is hitting hardest for women, who suffered a net loss of 160,300 retail jobs last year, while men gained about 106,000. In fact, women’s share of all retail jobs declined from 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent.

History of Discrimination: The gender jobs gap results from discrimination, past and present. Historically, women have been shunted into positions selling items like clothing and cosmetics, where sales have taken a hit. Men have dominated “durable goods,” such as home repair and home appliances, where sales are steady and pay and commissions are higher. Until more opportunities open up for women in these big-ticket departments, they’ll be concentrated in insecure jobs with lower wages and commissions.