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Moms bring home the bacon, dads fry it up in a pan

ST. PETERSBURG — Here's another sign of today's tough times: Jim Faylo has gone from taping the ankles of professional football players to feeding blueberry applesauce to his infant daughter.

Faylo used to be the head athletic trainer for the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League. He lost that job in December when the league called off its season due to the sagging economy.

The Faylos are part of an emerging national story: Dad's losing his job. Mom's making the money.

Lots of people are losing their jobs — nearly 600,000 in January alone — but a study released last month suggests about 80 percent of the jobless in this recession are men. Jobs in manufacturing and finance have been hit the hardest. Those are traditionally male-dominated industries. The industries that have been hit less hard? Education. Health care. The traditionally female-dominated industries.

Women made up 49.1 percent of the work force in November. What this means, then, is that sooner rather than later, and for the first time ever, women could make up the majority of the American work force.

That's doing more than altering budgets and bottom lines. It's also changing duties at home.

In the Faylo home, Sybil Faylo goes to her job at All Children's Hospital, where she works as a pediatric audiologist, and Jim Faylo stays home with big-blue-eyed, 8-month-old Ali.

On Friday afternoon, in their home with hardwood floors and a sign on the living room wall that says LIVE LAUGH LOVE, he had her dressed in a pink and green sweatshirt with an adorable little hood and matching itty-bitty sneakers. He read her the Squishy Turtle book.

Faylo is, he said, a 42-year-old Mr. Mom.

With her job, and their savings, the Faylos are okay, financially speaking — at least for now. "But it's a little challenge for the ego," Faylo said. "My wife likes to joke that she's my sugar mama now."

That 80 percent figure out of the study by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Boston's Northeastern University? James "Biscuit" Sellers didn't need a stat to know that.

Sellers, who lives in St. Petersburg, is an out-of-work electrician, a licensed barber, a handyman, and a 40-year-old who has been looking for a job, any job, since December. He goes to the WorkNet Pinellas office downtown to see what's out there.

"All you've got to do is step in there and look around," Sellers said. "A lot of men my age, late 30s, 40s."

Across the bay, Jessica Greene, 44, runs the Tampa Job Finders Network on meetup.com. She also goes to the Monday evening meetings at the WorkForce Tampa career center.

"Way more men than women," she said.

Take Bob Long of St. Petersburg. He's 35. He was in real estate investment banking for the last 10 years. He got laid off in December. There went his six-figure job. His wife teaches the second grade at Azalea Elementary School.

Now he jogs in the afternoon. He goes to the grocery store, does the laundry, does the dishes. He's home when his daughters get back from school and he helps them with their homework and he takes them to their soccer and softball practices.

"It makes me feel like I'm contributing to the household," he said.

Faylo, the former trainer for the Storm, isn't used to this. He has worked, he said Friday, since he was 10 years old, when he had a paper route in his hometown in upstate New York.

He has never not worked. He's done athletic trainer work at high schools in the area. He's done it for Eckerd College. He's done it for the New York Yankees and the U.S. women's soccer team and the old Tampa Bay Mutiny of Major League Soccer.

One day in December, though, he was eating lunch at Biff Burger in St. Petersburg and he saw the news ticker on a TV there that the Arena Football League had canceled its season. He didn't believe it. So he waited through all the other scores, professional hockey, professional basketball, men's college basketball, women's college basketball, to see if he had seen what he thought he had seen — and there it was again.

No league. No job.

He takes his daughter for walks. They go to Publix. They go to Borders. He feeds her. He changes her diapers. Sometimes, he said, he has to call his wife at work and ask her where certain things are around the house.

"Anybody who says this is an easy job …" he said.

"When she cries, you don't know what she wants," he said. "You're trying to mind-read to do what's going to make her happy."

One of her tiny pink shoes popped off. He slipped it back on. He squeezed her foot and he smiled at her and she smiled back.

It's not all bad.

"When she gets older," Faylo said, "I'll be able to say, 'Hey, we spent lots of time together.' "

Times staff writers Lane DeGregory and Leonora LaPeter Anton and researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8751.

Moms bring home the bacon, dads fry it up in a pan 02/06/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 7, 2009 6:41am]
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