Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center

Second Anniversary of the Recovery Shows No Job Growth for Women

Read our Press Release on the Jobs Numbers | Download this fact sheet as a PDF

The deep recession that began in December 2007 cost workers nearly 7.5 million jobs before it officially ended in June 2009.  Two years into the recovery, overall job growth has been weak; the economy added only 524,000 jobs between June 2009 and June 2011.  Although job growth remains unacceptably slow for both men and women, it is striking that women have actually lost jobs during the recovery while men gained.  In addition, women’s unemployment rate rose from 7.7 percent in June 2009 to 8.0 percent in June 2011, while men’s unemployment rate declined from 9.9 percent to 9.1 percent over the last two years. 

During the recession, men suffered about 70 percent of the job loss.  However, in the recovery, they have seen all of the job gains.

  • Between June 2009 and June 2011, women lost 281,000 jobs while men gained 805,000.
  • Losses in the public sector have been the driving factor in women’s overall job loss.  Between June 2009 and June 2011, women lost 343,000 public-sector jobs, 70 percent of all the public sector jobs lost.
  • Private sector gains for women have been minimal.  Women accounted for only 6 percent of all jobs gained in the private sector during the recovery.  

Job change two years into the recovery

Women are faring worse than men during the recovery in most sectors.

The story of women falling behind is one that stretches across sectors.  In most sectors, women have fared worse than have men – either losing jobs while men gained them, losing more jobs, or gaining a smaller number of jobs.  For example:

  • In manufacturing (durable and non-durable) – a sector 29 percent women – women lost 115,000 jobs during the recovery while men gained 94,000.
  • In retail trade – a sector 51 percent women – women lost 168,800 jobs while men gained 172,800.
  • In financial activities – a sector which includes banking and real estate and is 59 percent women – women lost 150,000 jobs while men gained 9,000.
  • In leisure and hospitality – a sector 52 percent women – women gained only 6,000 jobs while men gained 120,000.
  • In the public sector – a sector 57 percent women – women lost 343,000 jobs, more than twice as many as the 150,000 jobs men lost.

There were some sectors where men lost more jobs in the recovery or gained fewer of the new jobs than women.

  • In construction (a sector only 13 percent women) and non-durable goods manufacturing (a sector only 35 percent women), men lost 396,000 and 66,000 jobs, respectively, while women in construction lost 94,000 jobs and women in non-durable goods lost 52,000 jobs.
  • In private education and health services – a sector 77 percent women – women gained 469,000 jobs while men gained 280,000 jobs.

Table 1: Job change by sector for women and men during recovery (June 2009-June 2011)

Sector

Percent of workers who are women (June 2009)

Women

Men

TOTAL JOBS

50%

-281,000

805,000

  PRIVATE SECTOR JOBS

48%

62,000

955,000

       GOODS PRODUCING

23%

-201,000

-210,000

         ■ Construction

13%

-94,000

-396,000

         ■ Manufacturing

29%

-115,000

94,000

             ▪ Durable goods

25%

-63,000

160,000

             ▪ Non-durable goods

35%

-52,000

-66,000

       PRIVATE SERVICE-PRODUCING

54%

263,000

1,165,000

         ■ Trade, transportation and utilities

41%

-235,000

239,000

             ▪ Wholesale trade

30%

-38,900

2,900

             ▪ Retail Trade

51%

-168,800

172,800

             ▪ Transportation and Warehousing

24%

-20,500

65,200

         ■ Information

42%

-79,000

-30,000

         ■ Financial activities

59%

-150,000

9,000

         ■ Professional and business services

45%

222,000

502,000

         ■ Education and health services

77%

469,000

280,000

         ■ Leisure and hospitality

52%

6,000

120,000

         ■ Other services

53%

30,000

45,000

  PUBLIC SECTOR JOBS

57%

-343,000

-150,000

SOURCE: Current Employment Statistics survey.  Sectors with one million or more employees

 

During the recovery, women are adding to their losses in the recession in many sectors.

Absolute numbers of job losses and gains during the recovery are only part of the story, since men lost the majority of jobs during the recession.  Figure 2 looks at the percentage of jobs lost during the recession that have been regained during the recovery.  In most sectors women did not regain any of the jobs they lost in the recession, but rather lost additional jobs.  Thus, what Figure 2 often shows for women is the additional jobs lost during the recovery as a percentage of jobs lost during the recession.  (For example: if women lost 100,000 jobs during the recession and gained 10,000 jobs during the recovery, they would have regained 10 percent of the jobs they lost (+10 percent).  If they lost an additional 10,000 jobs in the recovery, they would have had an additional loss of 10 percent (-10 percent), losing one additional job in the recovery for every ten jobs they lost in the recession).

  • Men have regained 18 percent of the private-sector jobs they lost during the recession during the recovery while women have only regained three percent. 
  • In a variety of sectors, women have not regained any lost jobs, but only suffered additional job loss during the recovery.  In financial activities, women have lost half as many jobs (-53 percent) in the recovery as they did during the recession while men regained jobs (+5 percent).  In other sectors like information (including publishing and broadcasting jobs) and construction, women have lost more than two-thirds as many jobs in the recovery as they did in the recession (-69 percent in both sectors).  (Men experienced additional job loss in these sectors, though their losses in the recovery represented a smaller fraction of their losses in the recession as compared to women: men lost just over a quarter as many jobs in information (-26 percent) and construction (-29 percent) as they lost during the recession).
  • In non-durable goods manufacturing women and men both experienced comparable additional losses – each gender lost about a quarter as many jobs in the recovery as they did in the recession (-25 percent for women and -23 percent for men).
  • In only one sector in which jobs were lost during the recession did women regain a higher percentage of lost jobs than men during the recovery (+91 percent for women, +42 percent for men): “other services” (which include repair and laundry services).

Additional jobs lost or regained during the recovery

In sectors that added jobs in the recession, women’s job growth has reversed or slowed.

In sectors that have provided opportunities for women, including during the recession, job growth has reversed or slowed.

  • In the public sector – a sector 57 percent women – women gained 132,000 jobs while men gained 48,000 during the recession.  However, in the recovery, women have lost nearly 343,000 jobs – more than twice as many as men, who lost 150,000.
  • In private education and health services – a sector 77 percent women – women gained 79 percent of the 619,000 jobs added to education and health services in the recession.  However, in the recovery women have received only six in ten (63 percent) of the 749,000 jobs added to this sector.

Source note: NWLC calculations from U.S. Dep’t of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Employment Statistics Survey, Table B-5: Employment of women on nonfarm payrolls by industry sector, seasonally adjusted, available at http://bls.gov/ces/cesbtabs.htm (last visited Jul. 8, 2011).