With men receiving 82% of the pink slips handed out in the economic downturn, women for the first time ever are set to surpass men on U.S. payrolls. Recessions historically have made more households dependent on a female breadwinner, much like Nasreen Mohammed, whose home-based day-care business took on new importance when her husband lost his $150,000-a-year job. "Women are now bearing the burden -- or the opportunity, one could say -- of being breadwinners," says one economist.

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