Three years ago, John Moser lost his $50,000-a-year job as a development and marketing specialist. Since then, Moser, who lives near Allentown, Pa., and has a master's degree in public relations, has since held retail jobs selling club memberships, working part-time for a museum and, more recently, making sales calls for a lighting distributor.
"I decided to do what I had to do to keep the family going forward," Moser said, noting he has a daughter in college.
Whether women can land more new jobs depends to a large extent on the strength of the public sector.
Not only are women more likely to hold public sector jobs, but they also are more likely to work in fields — such as teaching and clerical work — that have been disproportionately cut in the last three years, said Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
"It may be that among the hundreds of thousands of female teachers and other women who lost their jobs, some may be giving up the idea of working — at least for now," Stevenson said.
Andrea Fogelman, a 26-year-old single mother of a 10-month-old boy, was laid off in June from her job as a kindergarten teacher in Reading, Pa. She makes ends meet with unemployment benefits and has moved back in with her parents. She has applied for other teaching positions in the area.
Kim Duelley, 51, who had been a second-grade teacher for three years, also lost her teaching job in Reading in June. Having previously worked for 20 years as a police officer in Orlando, Fla., Duelley knows what it's like to break the gender barrier. But at her age, she's worried about the tough economy.
"Outside of education, I'm not sure how I would do," she said. "I'm scared to go out in the job market because I don't know what I'm going to be facing."
Times staff writer Jamie Goldberg in Washington contributed to this report.