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Women’s Employment Update: Women Gain Most of the New Jobs in July As Low-Wage Sectors Grow

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly jobs data for July today and the numbers tell the story of a recovery that is just too slow.

There was good news in July as adult women’s unemployment rate matched its recovery-era low at 6.5 percent. However, this rate is still 1.5 times as high as the unemployment rate for adult women when the recession began in December 2007. Additionally – adult African-American women, adult Hispanic women, and single moms all still have unemployment rates several percentage points above this level.

July also proved to be a less-than-impressive month on the jobs front. The economy added 162,000 jobs in July, 117,000 of which were gained by women. However, adding 162,000 jobs each month is far below what we need to get back to pre-recession employment levels including absorbing the growth in the population. In fact, here’s a (sad) fact for the day: at this pace, it will take nearly 11 years, until 2024, to close the jobs gap, according to estimates by the Hamilton Project.

One other key piece of the jobs story is the kind of jobs we’re adding to the economy. As I mentioned last month, we’ve seen big growth in low-wage jobs. And in July? More of the same. Nearly half of all the job gains in July were in low-wage sectors—retail trade, leisure and hospitality, and temporary help services—continuing a troubling trend. And this is bad news for women: our recent analysis shows that since the start of the recovery, 60 percent of women’s job gains have been in low-wage occupations.

One of the other continuing problems related to this recession and slow recovery is long-term unemployment rates – or the share of jobless workers who are still looking for work after six months of searching. As you can see in the chart below, long-term unemployment rates for adult women (39.0 percent) and men (40.6 percent) were still much higher in July 2013 than at the start of the recession or the recovery. Over 4.2 million Americans have been unable to find work for six months or more.

Share of Jobless Adult Workers Unemployed for More Than Six Months, Recession and Recovery

 This post has been full of a lot of doom and gloom, but the truth is that the recovery is slow, and we’re going to need more improvement each month to reach a full recovery any time soon. But the good news is this: we can fix this. We need to speed this recovery up, and lawmakers can do that by stopping sequestration and cuts to programs that help women and families and instead investing in job creation. We can’t afford wait until 2024 for a full recovery – and we shouldn’t have to.

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