Today’s release of February jobs data brought pretty good news – 236,000 jobs added to the economy and the overall unemployment rate dropped slightly to 7.7 percent. Unfortunately we still have a long way to go.
The overall story in February was good, but women only gained one-third of the jobs added last month. The economy added 236,000 jobs between January and February, only 80,000 of which went to women.
Public sector losses continued in February. Both women and men lost public sector jobs in February, bringing the total number of public sector jobs lost over the recovery to 462,000 for women and 280,000 for men.
Unemployment rates fell for adult women and men, but still remain unacceptably high. Adult women’s and men’s unemployment rates fell in February – to 7.0 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively. While these rates are an improvement since the recession began in December 2007, they still aren’t very good when put in historical context: apart from this recession, adult women have not seen unemployment rates above 7 percent in nearly 30 years – for men it is over 20.
A long holiday weekend is nearly upon us, and I’ll admit, my mind is wandering a bit today to non-work-related thoughts of beaches and barbecues. But before we all head off to celebrate a Labor Day free of labor, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at the origins of this end-of-summer tradition.
According to the Department of Labor, “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” The first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5, 1882, in New York City, and was organized by the Central Labor Union, which later urged labor organizations in other cities to celebrate an annual “workingmen’s holiday” on the first Monday in September.
Of course, today we recognize that it is not only “workingmen,” but also millions of working women who have made great contributions “to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” After decades of historic strides, women now make up about half of the U.S. workforce, and have entered into fields from manufacturing to medicine in numbers that many would not have imagined a generation ago. Read more »
If you read our blog or our report on how women are doing three years into the recovery, you know that public sector job losses are really slowing the recovery for women. For every 10 private sector jobs women have gained in the recovery, they’ve lost more than four public sector jobs.
But the impact of the unprecedented public sector job cuts we’ve seen recently is far broader. A new report from Brookings highlights these key facts:
Teachers (overwhelmingly women) experienced the largest number of public sector job losses. But the biggest percentage declines were in public safety jobs: emergency responders (-43.5%), air-traffic controllers (-28.5%), and fire fighters (-18.9%).
The percentage of workers employed in the public sector (federal, state and local) as a share of the population is at its lowest level in over 30 years.
If public sector employment had remained steady since the start of the recession, the economy would have an additional 1.7 million jobs and the unemployment rate would be 7.1 percent instead of 8.2 percent.
And public sector job cuts aren’t just hurting workers, their families, and the economy today. The Brookings report also looks at the long-term impact on the economy of the cuts in just one area – education. Fewer teachers mean more students per class: and recent research, cited in the report, finds that larger class sizes mean lower wages for today’s children when they join the workforce.Read more »
The New York Times today reports that single women’s votes may be key to this year’s presidential election. “Single women are one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups — there are 1.8 million more now than just two years ago,” the Times explains. “They make up a quarter of the voting-age population nationally, and even more in several swing states, including Nevada.” But single women have traditionally registered and turned out to vote at relatively low rates, which means their full political power remains untapped.
It’s time to change that. The results of the presidential, congressional, and state elections this year will shape single women’s lives in a host of ways. The elections will determine whether single mothers receive the supports they need to make ends meet. They will determine whether women’s insurance covers contraception without a co-pay. The elections will determine whether the economy will work for single women who have experienced extremely high rates of unemployment through the recession and recovery and whether policymakers will prioritize fair pay for women. Read more »
It’s the first month of jobs data for 2012 and January is off to a good start, according to NWLC’s number crunching this morning. The newly released jobs data for January brought some good news – drops in unemployment and job gains for both women and men this month.
Here are a few things you should know from today’s jobs data:
Women’s and men’s unemployment is the same for the first time since the start of the recession. When the recession officially began in December 2007, the unemployment rate for both women and men stood at 4.4 percent. Over two and a half years later, their unemployment rates finally meet again – at 7.7 percent. Since the start of the recovery in June 2009, men’s unemployment has dropped 2.2 percentage points, while women’s unemployment has essentially remained flat – rising slightly from 7.6 percent in June 2009.
Today’s jobs data may bring better news than last month, but it certainly isn’t great news for women. Our analysis shows that, yet again, women’s unemployment inched up this month, demonstrating that the small gains in jobs weren’t enough to keep up with the additional women looking for work. In fact, women gained just 4,000 of the 103,000 jobs added to the economy this month. These numbers are again driven by public sector losses. In September, the public sector lost 34,000 jobs, 82 percent of which were women’s jobs. Read more »