Steady increases among women with college degrees over the past two decades apparently have paid off during the recession, with government statistics showing they fared better than men over the past year, and for the first time surpassed the number of men holding payroll jobs, reports the Wall Street Journal. Women were earning about 166 associates degrees and 135 bachelor’s degrees for every 100 earned by men in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Education. More women were employed in teaching, government and health care, sectors that held up better in the recession. The construction and manufacturing sectors, which often require less schooling, have shed millions of jobs in the last few years. Revised data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed women held about 720,000 more nonfarm payroll jobs than men in January. They also exceeded the number of men on the payroll during four months last year.

“This is unprecedented,” said Tim Consedine, regional economist,at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in Boston.

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