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Jobs Picture Improves for Women and Men

But Still No Improvement in Women’s Unemployment Since Recovery Started, NWLC Analysis Shows

March 09, 2012

(Washington, D.C.) Analysis by the National Women’s Law Center of jobs data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women gained 86,000 jobs in February – 38 percent of the jobs added last month.  However, women have gained less than 12 percent of the nearly 2.2 million net jobs added since the start of the recovery in June 2009.  The 7.7 percent unemployment rate for adult women in February 2012 is still slightly higher than their 7.6 percent unemployment rate at the start of the recovery.  

“Today’s jobs data show that women are starting to share in the recovery, but they still have a long way to go,” said Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center.  “Since women’s unemployment rate hasn’t improved since the start of this recovery, policy makers’ top priority should be to help create and preserve jobs for women as well as men.”    

During the recession, the unemployment rate for adult men increased more than for adult women; at the start of the recovery in June 2009, adult men’s unemployment rate stood at 9.9 percent, while adult women’s was 7.6 percent.  During the recovery, however, the unemployment rate for adult men dropped by 2.2 percentage points, to 7.7 percent in February 2012.  Adult women’s unemployment increased by 0.1 percentage point since the start of the recovery, to 7.7 percent in February 2012.   The 7.7 percent unemployment rates for adult men and women were unchanged since January 2012, which marked the first time those rates were equal since the start of the recession in December 2007, when they were 4.4 percent. 

The long-term unemployment rate – the percentage of unemployed workers looking for jobs for 27 weeks or more – rose slightly for adult women last month to 44.0 percent; the long-term unemployment rate for adult men dropped slightly to 40.1 percent.  The long-term unemployment rates for both adult women and men are substantially higher than at the start of the recovery.

Women's Unemployment Flat in Recovery

The largest job gains for women in February came in private education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services, which include temporary help services.  The public sector lost 6,000 jobs last month – all of which were lost by men.  Since the recovery began, the public sector has lost 584,000 net jobs – 68 percent of which (399,000) were held by women.

“As the debate over the federal budget heats up in Washington, policy makers must take care not to undermine the recovery that is underway,” said Entmacher.  “The deep cuts to public services that some members of Congress are proposing would slow economic growth, cause more job losses in the public sector, and slash services urgently needed by millions of Americans who are still struggling to get back on their feet.”

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