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Women Gain More Than Half the Jobs in a Month of Strong Job Growth, NWLC Analysis Shows

November 02, 2012

(Washington, D.C.) The economy gained 171,000 jobs in October, more than half of which (91,000) went to women, according to new analysis from the National Women’s Law Center. Reversing a trend for the recovery as a whole, women gained 12,000 public sector jobs in October. Since the start of the recovery in June 2009, women have lost 351,000 public sector jobs, effectively wiping out 30 percent of the nearly 1.2 million private sector jobs they have gained.  Men also have lost public sector jobs – 25,000 last month; but since the start of the recovery men’s public sector losses have only wiped out 8 percent of the more than 2.6 million private sector jobs they have gained.

“Recovering from a catastrophe such as the 2008 crash is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center.  “The economy is moving in the right direction, with solid job gains again last month. In particular, today’s jobs data show a stronger recovery for women, though once again, public sector job losses slowed progress overall.  The data show that policy makers who are serious about strengthening this recovery need to stop cutting public services. These programs represent jobs for public workers who respond to emergencies, teach our children, and protect our health.”

The unemployment rate for adult women (20 and older) increased slightly in October 2012 primarily due to women joining the labor force to look for work.  Adult men’s unemployment rate was flat last month. 

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

Unemployment rates have dropped during the recovery for both adult women and men. The much steeper decline for men has made men’s and women’s unemployment rates nearly equal.

Change in Unemployment Rates over the Recovery (June 2009 – October 2012)

Unemployment rates increased in October for adult African American women (12.4 percent) and for single mothers (11.5 percent).  Adult Hispanic women’s unemployment rate decreased in October (9.5 percent).  Rates for all these groups 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—remained high for both adult women and men in October. More than four in ten jobless adult women (42.7 percent) and men (46.4 percent) were unable to find work after looking for more than six months. 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. In past recessions, Congress has never allowed these benefits to expire when the unemployment rate was above 7.2 percent.

Job changes for women and men in October were spread across several industries:

Industries with Most Job Gains for Women and Men in October

Industries with Most Job Losses for Women and Men in October

“The economy continues to improve, but it will take many more months of strong job growth before there are enough jobs for everyone who wants to work," Entmacher said. "In the meantime, unless Congress takes action, 2 million long-term jobless workers and their families will lose unemployment insurance benefits in December.  Extending these benefits is good for families and the economy because it puts money in the pockets of jobless workers – who become customers for businesses.  Members of Congress should make this a top priority when they return in November.”