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Women’s Employment Update: February brings good news but there’s a long road ahead

Today’s release of February jobs data brought pretty good news – 236,000 jobs added to the economy and the overall unemployment rate dropped slightly to 7.7 percent. Unfortunately we still have a long way to go.

Here are the highlights from today’s NWLC analysis:

  • The overall story in February was good, but women only gained one-third of the jobs added last month. The economy added 236,000 jobs between January and February, only 80,000 of which went to women.
  • Public sector losses continued in February. Both women and men lost public sector jobs in February, bringing the total number of public sector jobs lost over the recovery to 462,000 for women and 280,000 for men.
  •  Unemployment rates fell for adult women and men, but still remain unacceptably high. Adult women’s and men’s unemployment rates fell in February – to 7.0 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively. While these rates are an improvement since the recession began in December 2007, they still aren’t very good when put in historical context: apart from this recession, adult women have not seen unemployment rates above 7 percent in nearly 30 years – for men it is over 20.
  •  As we look to the months ahead and the impacts of sequestration, this growth isn’t going to be enough. The number of jobs added in February was good but the bad news is that the growth just isn’t good enough. At this rate we still have many months to go before we come close to recouping the number of jobs lost in the recession. On top of that, we’re staring down on some pretty rough months ahead thanks to sequestration. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that sequestration will cost us 750,000 jobs in 2013 alone. If the sequester hits that hard it will slow the progress we’ve been making and exacerbate already steep public sector job losses.
  • And long-term unemployment remains painfully high. About four in ten jobless adult women and men were unable to find work after more than six months of searching in February and these rates have remained high, even as the overall unemployment rate falls.
    Percent of adult jobless workers who were unemployed after 27 weeks

Instead of harming vital programs, we hope Congress can instead turn to helping improve the economy and create jobs for the more than 12 million Americans who are unemployed – and the many millions more who are barely making it paycheck to paycheck.

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