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Women’s Unemployment Hits Three and a Half Year Low, Women’s Job Gains Equal Men’s in September, National Women’s Law Center Analysis Shows

October 05, 2012

(Washington, D.C.) Adult women’s unemployment rate in September dipped to its lowest level since February 2009, 7.0 percent, according to analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) of jobs data released today.  Adult men’s unemployment rate fell to 7.3 percent, the lowest level since November 2008.  The economy gained 114,000 jobs in September; women and men each gained 57,000 jobs.  Reversing a trend for the recovery as a whole, women gained 3,000 public sector jobs in September. Since the start of the recovery in June 2009, women have lost 383,000 public sector jobs overall, wiping out more than one-third of the more than 1 million private sector jobs they have gained.

“Today’s jobs data are encouraging—unemployment dropped for both women and men last month, and job gains were equally shared,” said Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center.  “But they also show a recovery that still has a long way to go, especially for the more than 4.8 million Americans who have been looking for work for more than six months.  Policy makers need to stop the cuts to education, health care, and other public services that have cost women so many jobs during the recovery.  They need to invest in strengthening our economy and help struggling families get back on their feet.”

The 7.0 percent unemployment rate for adult women (ages 20 and older) in September 2012 was down 0.3 percentage point since August and 0.6 percentage point since June 2009.  Adult men’s unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in September, down 0.3 percentage point since August and 2.6 percentage points since June 2009.  Unemployment rates in September also declined for adult African American women (10.9 percent), adult Hispanic women (9.8 percent), and for single mothers (11.3 percent), though they remained higher than for women and men overall.

The long-term unemployment rate—the percentage of jobless workers looking for work for more than six months—increased for both adult women and men in September.  More than four in ten jobless adult women (43.1 percent) and men (45.2 percent) were unable to find work after looking for more than six months.  This is particularly troubling, since federal unemployment insurance benefits, which provide additional weeks of benefits for some long-term jobless workers, are set to expire at the end of December.

Women gained 54,000 private sector jobs in September, with the largest gains in private education and health services (+40,000), financial activities (+15,000), and professional and business services (+14,000).  Women also gained 3,000 public sector jobs.  Women’s largest job losses were in wholesale trade (-12,300), manufacturing (-7,000), and leisure and hospitality (-5,000).

Men gained 50,000 private sector jobs in September, with the largest gains in leisure and hospitality (+16,000), transportation and warehousing (+13,800), and wholesale trade (+10,700).  Men also gained 7,000 public sector jobs.  Men’s largest losses were in manufacturing (-9,000).

“The economy is moving in the right direction, but there are critical choices ahead,” Entmacher said. “Two million jobless workers are facing the end of unemployment insurance benefits that help their families stay afloat—and create demand for the goods and services other workers provide.  When Congress returns in November, members need to extend unemployment benefits, not tax cuts for the richest two percent.”

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