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Three Years into the Recovery, Job Growth for Women Undermined by Public Sector Job Losses, NWLC Analysis Shows

July 06, 2012

(Washington, D.C.) Analysis by the National Women’s Law Center of jobs data for June 2012 shows that last month women gained more private sector jobs than men did:  49,000 v. 35,000.  But women lost 17,000 public sector jobs in June, while men gained 13,000 public sector jobs.  Since the start of the recovery three years ago, women have gained 908,000 net private sector jobs—and lost 396,000 net public sector jobs.  Men have gained 2,304,000 net private sector jobs—and lost 231,000 net public sector jobs.  In the last three years, women have a net gain of 512,000 jobs; men have a net gain of 2,073,000 jobs.

“The June jobs data reflect a disturbing trend we’ve seen during the three years of the recovery:  cuts in public sector jobs are undermining the recovery overall—but especially for women,” said Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center.  “For every ten private sector jobs women have gained since the recovery began in June 2009, they’ve lost more than four public sector jobs. Our communities are losing teachers, nurses, police and firefighters but some policy makers still don’t get it. They’re pushing for deeper budget cuts that will mean more lost jobs, more cuts in education, health care, public safety, and other vital services.”

The sectors with the most growth last month for women were professional and business services (including temporary help services) and leisure and hospitality where women gained 28,000 jobs and 10,000 jobs respectively.  These are both service-sector industries in which women have done well in the recovery overall.  However, women only gained 2,000 jobs in the private education and health sector in June.  In the recovery overall this sector was the strongest area of job gains for women, adding 725,000 jobs over three years—roughly the same as professional and business services and leisure and hospitality combined.  Men also had strong gains in the recovery in these three service sectors, adding roughly the same number of jobs as women in these sectors combined.  Men have also done well in some areas where women have sustained substantial losses including manufacturing and retail.

The unemployment rates for adult women and men (ages 20 and older) in June 2012 were unchanged from May, at 7.4 percent and 7.8 percent respectively.   Since the start of the recovery, adult women’s unemployment rate has declined slightly, by 0.2 percentage points from 7.6 percent in June 2009; adult men’s unemployment rate has dropped by 2.1 percentage points from 9.9 percent in June 2009. 

But unemployment rates for some vulnerable groups of women rose last month—and for some they are higher than at the start of the recovery.  The unemployment rate for adult black women jumped to 12.7 percent in June 2012, up from 11.4 percent in May 2012 and 11.6 percent in June 2009.  The unemployment rate for single mothers rose to 11.8 percent in June 2012, up from 10.9 percent in May and up very slightly from 11.7 percent in June 2009.  The unemployment rate for adult Hispanic women also rose in June, to 10.3 percent from 9.2 percent in May—but was down from 11.5 percent in June 2009. 

The unemployment rates for adult black and Hispanic men, though substantially higher than for men overall, were essentially unchanged last month and lower for both groups than at the start of the recovery.  The unemployment rate for adult black men in June 2012 was 14.2 percent, unchanged from May and down 2.1 percentage points from 16.3 percent in June 2009.  The unemployment rate for adult Hispanic men was 9.5 percent in June, down very slightly from 9.6 percent in May, and down 1.2 percentage points from 10.7 percent in June 2009.

“With millions of families still struggling to get back on their feet, this is no time to give more tax breaks to those who already have the most,” added Entmacher.  “It’s time to invest in strengthening our economy for all Americans.”  

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