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January Jobs Data Brings Improvements for Women and Men

It’s the first month of jobs data for 2012 and January is off to a good start, according to NWLC’s number crunching this morning. The newly released jobs data for January brought some good news – drops in unemployment and job gains for both women and men this month.

Here are a few things you should know from today’s jobs data:

  • Women’s and men’s unemployment is the same for the first time since the start of the recession. When the recession officially began in December 2007, the unemployment rate for both women and men stood at 4.4 percent. Over two and a half years later, their unemployment rates finally meet again – at 7.7 percent. Since the start of the recovery in June 2009, men’s unemployment has dropped 2.2 percentage points, while women’s unemployment has essentially remained flat – rising slightly from 7.6 percent in June 2009.Women's unemployment flat in recovery
  • While January brought job gains, women have only gained eight percent of the jobs added since the start of the recovery. Since the recovery began in June 2009, women have now gained 150,000 jobs – a positive change, but still not enough. Why? Because a gain of 150,000 jobs is equal to just eight percent of the more than 1.9 million net jobs the economy has added in the recovery.  Women’s shockingly small share of the job growth is because they’ve suffered a disproportionate share of the job losses in the public sector – nearly 70 percent – and have enjoyed less than a quarter of the private sector gains.  Percentage of jobs gained in the recovery (June 2009 - January 2012)
  • Long-term unemployment remains unacceptably high. The percent of jobless adult workers who were still looking for work after more than six months of unemployment was 43.4 percent for women and 42.4 percent for men in January. These figures are up by more than 14.1 and 11.7 percentage points, respectively, since the recovery began.
  • Unemployment rates for vulnerable groups remain far above the national average. In January, black women (12.6 percent), black men (12.7 percent), Hispanic women (11.3 percent), Hispanic men (10.7 percent), and single mothers (12.0 percent) all have unemployment rates substantially higher than the national average.

While this month’s jobs data brought some good news, it’s clear that millions of Americans are still struggling. There are nearly 13 million unemployed workers. Nearly half of all jobless adults are still unemployed after six months of searching. The recovery is moving, but not fast enough. Failure to extend federal emergency unemployment benefits that expire this month would be a blow to millions of hard-pressed families and the still fragile recovery.