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Job Growth Unexpectedly Strong in November but Long-Term Unemployment Remains Painfully High, NWLC Analysis Shows

December 07, 2012

 (Washington, D.C.) The long-term unemployment rate—the percentage of jobless workers looking for work for more than six months—remained painfully high for both adult women and men in November. New analysis by the National Women’s Law Center shows that 42 percent of jobless adult women and 45 percent of jobless adult men were unable to find work after looking for more than six months.  These rates are one-and-a-half times higher than rates at the beginning of the recovery in June 2009.

“One critical but overlooked fact in today’s unexpectedly strong jobs data is that more than four in ten jobless women and men are unable to find work despite searching for more than six months,” said Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center. “But unless Congress acts quickly, over two million long-term jobless workers will see their unemployment insurance benefits cut off in just three weeks.  Ending these benefits would not only harm the families who depend on them, but would also pull billions of dollars out of our economy, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

Job growth for the month of November was unexpectedly strong. The economy gained 146,000 jobs in November, more than half of which (91,000) went to women. Women and men shared equally in strong gains in the retail sector, adding 26,000 and 26,600 jobs respectively.  Women also saw good growth in private education and health services (21,000) and leisure and hospitality (18,000).  Men saw strong growth in professional and business services (28,000) but also a sizable loss in construction of 21,000 jobs. 

Recent good job growth has begun to make a dent in the recession losses.  Women have now gained back 42 percent of the jobs they lost in the recession, men have gained back 46 percent and the economy overall has regained 45 percent.  But the recovery still has a long way to go and it has been dramatically slowed by public sector job losses.  Though public sector jobs were essentially unchanged for both women and men in November, women have lost 387,000 public sector jobs and men have lost 221,000 public sector jobs since the beginning of the recovery in June 2009.  These losses have wiped out 30 percent of women’s private sector job gains and 8 percent of men’s. 

The unemployment rates for adult women and men (20 and older) decreased slightly in November 2012.  Rates for adult black men and women, adult white men and women, adult Hispanic men, and single mothers also declined in November.  The unemployment rate for Hispanic adult women was an exception, increasing to 10.3 percent from 9.5 percent in October. 


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


October 2012

November 2012


Adult Women (20+)

7.2 percent

7.0 percent

↓ 0.2 percentage points

Adult Men (20+)

7.3 percent

7.2 percent

↓ 0.1 percentage point

Overall (16+)

7.9 percent

7.7 percent

↓ 0.2 percentage points

Source: Current Population Survey                                                                                            


“Millions of families are living on the edge of a fiscal cliff and there still aren’t enough jobs for everyone who wants to work,” Entmacher said.  “To propel the economy forward, policy makers need to extend unemployment insurance, invest in creating more good jobs for women and men, protect programs that support vulnerable women and families, extend tax cuts for those who need them – and end them for those who don’t.”