As economists in the United States continue to lower their forecasts for job growth in 2012, and the national unemployment rate experiences its first rise since the summer of last year, there is genuine fear that the economy is heading towards a recession. With job creation also expected to dwindle slightly during the third and fourth quarters of 2012, it seems certain that the November elections will be contested against the backdrop of economic unrest.
With this in mind, it is no surprise that there has been a great deal of debate about how to facilitate an economic recovery in the U.S., and more specifically which demographic is best equipped to lead this. As more than seven out of 10 teens are expected to be jobless during the summer, and the level of investment in small businesses fell for the fourth month in a row during April, young people and entrepreneurs are the latest groups to become victims of circumstance rather than leaders in the current economy.
SEE: How To Combat Youth Unemployment
Women in Employment
The female demographic is one that has the potential to spark an economic revival in the U.S. The current level of unemployment among female workers sits at just 8.1%, which is lower than the national rate and continues to be a trend that first began during the first global recession of 2009. During this period, the jobless rate for women remained two points lower than the unemployment rate for men, which suggests that women are better equipped to adapt during periods of recession and remain in long-term employment.
One of the reasons behind this is undoubtedly the nature of the recent recession, and more specifically the industries that have suffered job losses as the economy has experienced difficulty. For example, the manufacturing industry has endured significant job cuts in recent times, and as U.S. defense contractors prepare to sanction more ahead of the November elections it is unlikely to experience significant growth anytime soon. Along with the ailing construction industry, this has had a significant impact on male job seekers. Women-dominated fields like healthcare and other neutral fields have sustained more positive growth.
Education in the U.S.
If a greater number of women are able to retain long-term employment, then they will certainly play a significant role in driving economic growth. In addition to this, there are other factors which distinguish the female demographic in the current financial climate. Education is one such example, and during 2011 the number of women graduating with advanced degrees exceeded their male counterparts for the first time. A total of 10.6 million women aged 25 and older earned a master's degree or higher during 2010 and 2011, in comparison to 10.5 million men who registered the same achievement.
This trend is set to continue in 2012, with female students also closing the gap on their male counterparts in terms of achieving professional degrees in MBA programs. Although they still lag behind males in terms of studying subjects such as business, science and engineering, the fact that the number of women completing college and earning a bachelor's degree surpassed the male equivalent by 1.5 million in 2011 bodes well for female education in the U.S. This gradual shift has been the result of a decades-long evolution, as women have become more prominent in the workplace and have developed stronger career aspirations.
SEE: How Education And Training Affect The Economy
Women as the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow
While the level of small business lending may have dwindled throughout the first half of 2012, the number of female-owned ventures has continued to rise steadily. It is estimated that nearly 50% of all privately-owned companies in the U.S. are led by women. Although three quarters of these businesses fail to grow past $50,000 in gross annual revenue, there is reason to believe that females offer an entrepreneurial style of leadership and strategy that is more suited to periods of recession.
To begin with, women tend to differ from their male counterparts by adopting a more consultative approach to leadership, which is far more likely to empower staff and engage them in a sense of collaboration. Not only this, but neurological research has suggested that the connection between both sides of the brain is stronger in females than it is in males, which enables greater communication between the two hemispheres. Women are therefore able to engage in both left and right brain thinking, which allows them to focus on a combination of values and logic as part of their decision making processes.
The Bottom Line
The benefit of such a diverse and considered thought process is that it provides a greater opportunity to build relationships with both staff and consumers, without compromising the need for logical, business-orientated decisions. This, when considered alongside the fact that women continue to prosper both in the employment market and in terms of their higher education performance, provides genuine support for the notion that the female demographic is the most likely to lead an economic recovery in the U.S.