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February’s Strong Employment Numbers Mask an Uneven Recovery

Today’s BLS release of February’s employment data shows a drop in overall unemployment and big gains in jobs, but these strong overall numbers hide an uneven recovery that has left many women out. While women’s unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in over six years, some groups of vulnerable women continue to face high unemployment rates, and nearly forty percent of the jobs women added in February were in low-wage sectors. 

Women’s unemployment rate is at a 6-year low, but many groups of women are left out Read more »

January Jobs Report: The Engines are Revving – Let’s Step on the Gas

Today’s BLS data release shows the economy is moving in the right direction. The engines are revving but we need to step on the gas. Women gained 39 percent of the jobs added in January, but half of women’s gains were in the low-wage sectors of retail and leisure & hospitality that don’t pay enough to support a family. 

Half of women’s job gains in January were in low-wage sectors
We told you last month how job growth was still disproportionately low-wage, and this month one-third (32 percent) of all jobs added in January were in the low-wage sectors of retail and leisure & hospitality.  Women added 25,000 jobs apiece in retail and leisure & hospitality– growth in these two sectors accounted for half (49 percent) of the 101,000 jobs that women added in January.  One-fifth (21 percent) of men’s jobs added were in these sectors.

Overall, women accounted for 39 percent of the 257,000 jobs added in January, also seeing strong gains in private education & health services (+40,000) and losses in the public sector (-16,000) and professional & business services (-1,000). Read more »

November’s Strong Jobs Growth Must be Sustained and Supplemented by Increases in the Minimum Wage

Today’s release of jobs and employment data shows huge job growth for November, with the economy adding 321,000 jobs. This is great for both women and men—women added 108,000 jobs, making up a third of all jobs gains. Women saw the largest gains in professional & business (including temporary help services), private education & health services, and retail. 

Most groups of women also saw a decrease in their rate of unemployment.  The rate for women overall decreased slightly to 5.3 percent from 5.4 percent in October, adult Hispanic women declined to 6.4 percent from 7.0 percent, and white women to 4.5 percent from 4.6 percent. Single mothers’ unemployment rate declined to 8.2 percent from 8.7 percent.  African American women, however, were the only group of women whose unemployment rate went up—increasing to 9.6 percent from 9.4 percent in October.  All groups of adult men saw an increase in their unemployment rates. The unemployment rate overall stayed the same at 5.8 percent.  Read more »

It’s Time to Stop Talking about the ‘Mancession’: September’s Employment Update Shows Higher Unemployment for Women than Men

What day is it today? It’s October 3rd, and for many that means the unofficial celebration of Mean Girls Day, and the fond recalling of that famous date spoken between the protagonists in 2004’s Mean Girls. But if you can believe it, today is significant for us at NWLC for a different reason—today is the release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ September jobs numbers, and this month the numbers reveal that the recovery needs to pick up steam for women and men.

In September 2014, adult women’s unemployment was above the rate for men, 5.5 percent for women compared to 5.3 percent for men. Women’s and men’s unemployment rates have been moving closer together for some time, but this is the first time the unemployment rate for women has been above that of men since December 2012.  Read more »

Women’s Employment Update: African American Women Are the Only Group Whose Unemployment Has Not Improved in a Year

August’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes as somewhat of a disappointment today, as the economy broke its six-month streak of adding more than 200,000 jobs each month. The job growth slowdown is not the only disappointment to note in today’s report. While unemployment rates for all other groups of workers are lower now than they were a year ago, African American women are experiencing the same rate of unemployment as they were in August 2013—10.6 percent.

NWLC’s analysis reveals some key indicators about the state of women and the economy over the last year: Read more »

Women Gain 158,000 Jobs in June and Unemployment Rate Drops, But…

Overall, the story that came out of today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is a positive one. The economy added 288,000 jobs in June and 158,000 of those jobs (54.9 percent) went to women. Read more »


Women's Employment Update: Women’s job growth continues with 86,000 new jobs, but public sector job losses undercut gains

This month’s job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics included a notable first: for the first time since December 2007, there are more jobs than at the start of the recession. Although this represents progress, it is important to note that in order for the economy to have enough jobs for all the new people joining the labor force each month, it would take another 4 years of adding 217,000 jobs each month.

In May, women’s gains accounted for 40 percent of job growth, with 86,000 of the 217,000 new jobs since April. However, look a little closer and the picture is less rosy.

What stood out to me right away were women’s losses in public sector jobs. Although public sector employment overall increased by 1,000 this month, the gains were all in men’s jobs. Women lost 8,000 public sector jobs in May and since the recovery began in June 2009, women’s public sector job losses have wiped out 13.0 percent of their private sector gains. Men’s public sector job losses have wiped out 5.6 percent of their private sector gains. Government cuts resulting in public sector job losses have slowed the recovery, and this is especially true for women. Read more »

Women’s Employment Update: Women gain 166,000 jobs in April, but a disproportionate share of jobs are in low-wage sectors

Most of the early headlines reporting on today’s jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics celebrated the “surge” in payrolls and the “plummeting” of the unemployment rate. The report does give us some reasons to be optimistic—the economy added 288,000 jobs in April and the overall unemployment rate declined by 0.4 percentage points to 6.3 percent—but a deeper dive into the data shows a more complex picture.

April job gains were disproportionately low-wage for women:

  • Women gained 166,000 of the 288,000 jobs added in April, while men gained 122,000 jobs.
  • Women’s gains – but not men’s – were disproportionately in low-wage sectors (specifically, retail and leisure & hospitality).  These industries accounted for more than three in every ten jobs women gained (31 percent) but only one in every ten jobs that men gained (10 percent).
  • Women accounted for 81 percent of the 63,000 jobs added in the retail and leisure & hospitality sectors.

Low-Wage Jobs, High-Cost Child Care, and Stay-at-Home Moms

The percentage of mothers who stayed at home increased from a low of 23 percent in 1999 to 29 percent in 2012, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center [PDF]. This represents a turn-around from the trend in previous decades, when the percentage of mothers who stayed at home steadily declined from 47 percent in 1970.

There are many possible explanations for the recent increase in the number of mothers staying at home—but economic factors clearly play a major part.

Women deciding to enter today’s labor force face daunting prospects—unemployment rates remain well above pre-recession levels and jobs are hard to come by. In fact, Pew reports that the share of women who stay home with their children because they cannot find a job has risen by five percentage points since 2000. And when jobs can be found, they are very low-wage. NWLC analysis shows that over one-third of women’s job gains [PDF] since 2009 have been in the 10 largest low-wage occupations, which typically pay $10.10 or less per hour.  Read more »

Women's Employment Update: Despite job gains, women's unemployment rate increased and long-term unemployment remains high

March’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was showed stronger job growth than the previous two months. The economy added 192,000 jobs in March and over half of those jobs (99,000) were gained by women. But as we’ve seen during the recovery overall, the jobs added were disproportionately in low-wage sectors. Not only that, but women’s unemployment rate ticked up last month to 6.2 percent from 5.9 percent in February and the share of unemployed adult women who have been searching for a job for six months or more remained historically high at nearly four in ten. Here are some more key indicators about the state of women and the economy in March: Read more »