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Adult Women's Unemployment Rate Exceeds Men's for the First Time in More Than Six Years

In September 2006, the U.S. hadn't been through the Great Recession, there were no iPhones, and the country had only seen one season of "dancing" stars.

September 2006 was also the last time that adult women's unemployment exceeded men's — that is, until LAST month! According to NWLC analysis of today's new jobs data, adult women's (20+) unemployment rate climbed to 7.3 percent in December, 2012. Women's unemployment edged above men's, which at a 7.2 percent rate was unchanged from November:

Monthly Change in Unemployment Rates (November 2012 – December 2012)


November 2012

December 2012


 Adult Women (20+)

7.0 percent

7.3 percent

↑0.3 percentage points

 Adult Men (20+)

7.2 percent

7.2 percent


 Overall (16+)

7.8 percent

7.8 percent


 Source: Current Population Survey                                                                                           

The increase in unemployment for adult women overall was driven by new women job seekers who couldn't find work. Many groups of women saw increased unemployment in December — rates rose for adult African-American women, single mothers, and slightly for adult white women. Hispanic women were the exception; their unemployment rate declined in December to 9.4 percent from 10.3 percent in November.

Although the overall unemployment rate for adult men held steady, adult white men's unemployment edged down in December to 6.2 percent from 6.4 percent in November but rates for adult African-American and Hispanic men rose.

There are still far too many women and men who want to work — but can't find jobs. Lawmakers did the right thing — for families and the economy — by extending emergency unemployment benefits and family tax credits, and requiring the wealthiest Americans to start paying a fairer share of taxes. But with the sequester delayed for only two months, and the debt ceiling looming, more manufactured fiscal crises that threaten the still-fragile recovery are already at hand. Instead of putting programs vital to women and families on the chopping block, lawmakers should be making investments that create jobs and opportunities for women and men.


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