What do lipstick and the unemployment rate have in common?

More men have lost jobs in this brutal recession than women. That’s because men dominate in professions related to manufacturing and construction, while women are more apt to work in areas like education and health care — fields more resilient in downturns.

Nationally, four out of five jobs lost have fallen on men. In Michigan, state figures show the unemployment rate for men in 2008 rose to 9.1% from 7% the year before. For women, unemployment grew at a much slower pace, to 7.4% in 2008, compared to 7.1% in 2007.

So for many families, this recession has meant the role of primary breadwinner becomes number one on a woman’s to-do list. And that’s where the lipstick factor comes in.

When the economy tanks, direct sales is a job growth area for women. Think cosmetics and beauty purveyors Avon and Mary Kay, jewelry marketers like Silpada and Lia Sophia, and kitchenware sellers like Tupperware and Pampered Chef.

Items like costume jewelry, a pizza stone, or fuschia-hued lipstick fit into the “little luxury” category in these tough times. Folks may be putting off buying a new car, but they may plunk down $20 for something that will make them feel a little better.

Photo by adam*b