2011 unemployment rates, by gender and age

The job market treated men better than women in 2011, reducing the job losses that men suffered during the Great Recession.

And younger employees and retirees benefited slightly more than middle-age workers.

The proportion of workers who have jobs rose faster for those ages 20 to 24 and those over 65 than for other workers, according to Labor Department data released Friday.

Unemployment for middle-age workers fell faster in 2011 than for the youngest and oldest workers. But that was largely because many middle-age workers gave up looking for work. Once people stop looking for jobs, they’re no longer counted as unemployed.

Over the past 12 months, unemployment for men fell more than twice as fast as for women ? from 10 percent to 8.7 percent. But women still have a lower rate: 8.3 percent, down from 8.6 percent.

Many male-dominated industries, including manufacturing and construction, were struck especially hard by the recession. Some employers in those industries have begun to rehire men. But other men who worked in those fields have found jobs in lower-paying, female-dominated occupations in health care and retail.

Young adults and retirees fared slightly better than the middle-aged in 2011 in part by picking up lower-paying jobs.