Role Reversal: As recession lengthens, more men are laid off and become Mr. Moms

Brian Fletcher has gone from the daily handling of motorcycle engines, brakes, clutches and gaskets to dealing daily with baby diapers, pacifiers, rattles and a stroller.

The 29-year-old Turlock resident was laid off from his job as parts manager at DH Cycles in December after working at the Modesto motorcycle shop for seven years.

Fletcher and his wife, Holly, had their first child, Hannah, in October. Now, Holly, who works full time in purchasing for the Wine Group, is the family's sole provider.

Fletcher's switch from big bikes to tiny babies comes courtesy of the economy, a trend seen across the country as the jobless rate continues to climb and men find themselves unemployed at a higher rate than women.

Many couples in the Central Valley — where in Stanislaus County, unemployment reached a 12-year high of 16 percent in January — are seeing a shift in their family dynamics because of the deepening recession.

Nationally, since the recession started at the end of 2007, more than 80 percent of laid-off workers have been men. The disproportionate numbers can be attributed to heavy hits in traditionally male-skewing industries like construction and manufacturing and relative stability in more female-centric fields like schools and hospitals.

In November, women held more than 49 percent of jobs, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics thinks women soon could outnumber men in the workplace for the first time in the nation's history.

What that means for workplaces is one thing, but what that means in living rooms is another.

For families like the Fletchers, it has meant adjustments and reprioritizations.

Fletcher said this is the first time since he was 16 years old that he has been unemployed. Initially, he applied for several jobs a week; he figures he sent out his résumé 50 to 60 times. But after receiving little to no response, he stopped applying at the same clip.