Mancession Taking a Toll On Dad

Dad could use a little TLC this Father’s Day.

Whether employed or one of the 8.6 million men out of work, fathers are feeling stressed, fatigued, and for the 2.7 million who have been out of work more than six months, discouraged.

The “mancession,” a catchy, sound-bite of a description for the recession has hit men, especially those at mid-career, disproportionately hard. The 2009 summary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tells the story. At the end of the year, men accounted for 59.3 percent of the nation’s unemployed. But they made up only 52.7 percent of those working.

Both sexes are about equal when it comes to the average length of time it takes the unemployed to find a job: 24.6 weeks for men v. 24.1 weeks for women. Drill down a  bit and what you find is that way more men (59.7 percent) than women (40.4 percent) make up the long term unemployed — those out of work more than 26 weeks.

No surprise that outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas says  “the best father’s day gift would be continued assistance and support from family members as these out-of-work men continue their job searches.”

Working dads are also feeling the stress. They may not be worrying so much about the house or car payment, but a CareerBuilder survey says they are struggling to balance home and work. It’s not a new challenge, but it has been worsened for 10 percent of the surveyed dads who reported their spouse or partner became unemployed in the last year.

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The majority — 63 percent — say they work more than 40 hours a week, leading 37 percent to report spending less than two hours a day with the kids. More than a third — 35 percent — report missing two or more significant events in their child’s life because they had to work.

Now we all know that some of that is dad’s own doing. Even in good times, fathers choose work over a soccer game or school play. Even when employers make efforts to afford employees some balance, says Jason Ferrara, CareerBuilder’s VP corporate marketing at CareerBuilder and a father of two.  “Year over year, we find that nearly half of working dads do not take advantage of the flexible work arrangements offered to them.”

So this Father’s Day, treat dad with some understanding. And dads, don’t blame that missed grade school graduation on work. As a friend of mine once told me, “I never heard of anyone on their deathbed saying they wished they spent more time at work.”

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.