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Turning The Tables, Romney Hits Obama For A 'War On Women'

Mitt Romney was on the attack Wednesday, using a specific statistic to back up his claim that women, especially, have suffered economically under President Obama.

"Over 92 percent of the jobs lost under this president were lost by women," Romney said on Fox News. "His policies have been really a war on women."

The Romney campaign claims that 92.3 percent of those who have lost jobs during the Obama administration are women. It's a claim the campaign has made in speeches, on Twitter and on the Romney website.

On Wednesday's All Things Considered, NPR's Scott Horsley breaks down the numbers behind the Romney claim. Horsley says that starting the job loss clock in January 2009 — when Obama took office — does not account for some 4.5 million jobs lost earlier in the economic downturn. Most of those jobs were held by men.

Labor Department economist Megan Barker tells NPR the recession hit the construction and manufacturing industries first, then continued to industries where women predominate once Obama took office.

"So, historically we see that jobs in construction and manufacturing are held by males. More recently, we've seen more jobs being lost in education and health services and in government, which historically is where women tend to hold the majority of jobs," Barker tells NPR.

The fact-checking website Politifact, an NPR partner, rates the Romney claim as "mostly false":

The numbers are accurate but quite misleading. First, Obama cannot be held entirely accountable for the employment picture on the day he took office, just as he could not be given credit if times had been booming. Second, by choosing figures from January 2009, months into the recession, the statement ignored the millions of jobs lost before then, when most of the job loss fell on men. In every recession, men are the first to take the hit, followed by women.

While Obama leads Romney in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll on the question of who would do a better job addressing women's issues, it's a closer contest when respondents are asked about issues like creating jobs and handling the economy.

Janice Crouse with Concerned Women for America, a conservative public policy group, addressed Romney's relationship with female voters on NPR's Tell Me More Wednesday, saying Obama's gains among women are only short term.

"In the four years that we have had $1 trillion deficits, all four times they've been under the Obama administration. So the president is trying to run away from that record," says Crouse.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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