The Economics of the Second Sex, 1974, page 5
of the U. 3, Dept. of Labor which of course I had been reading since I was an undergraduate. I discovered, to my great glee, that detailed. tables offer many fascinating statistical details of classifications and cross—c1assifications dealing with the labor force, employment, unemployment, those not in the labor force, those having dropped out of the labor force, and so on and so on and so on. I also discovered that the regular monthly releases of unemployment data, which came out of the Labor Department and% under President Nixon's regime out of" the White House, used a standard format. I think they probably had a press release all printed up with appropriate paragraphs so that all they had to do was plug in the numbers. Now I quickly realized that anytime you have a standard format like this, you have absolutely no incentive to plug in any new numbers. For example, the unemployment rate for married men had been used as the chief indicator of the health or ailments of the general economy for a long time. The idea was that, since men supported families, when unemployment for married men increased the country was'in real trouble. Their unemployment rate was a much more sensitive, critical indicator than the overall unemployment rate. And so it may have been, twenty years ago, but over the intervening period as more and more women entered the labor force it was no longer this critical or sensitive. First, many more families depend utterly or partially upon the earnings of women and, therefore, unemployment rates for women loomed large in economic welfare. Secondly, married men who lost their jobs had'much less incentive to find new ones, or at least to become employed quickly, because they had working wives. So for predicting the impact of economic policy this rate of uncmployemnt was no longer a very good indicator.