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Public Sector

Women’s Employment Update: In a Weak January, Women Lost 51,000 Jobs, Mostly in the Public Sector

January’s jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were worse than analysts predicted and especially bad for women. Despite higher expectations, it turns out that the economy added only 113,000 jobs last month. What’s more, women actually lost 51,000 jobs and men captured all of the job gains, adding 164,000 jobs.

Breaking down the jobs numbers:

  • The majority of women’s losses were in the public sector (-30,000). The other biggest losses for women came in the professional and business services sector (-14,000), and retail (-5,000).
    • Women’s public sector losses continued a distressing recent trend: women have lost public sector jobs every month since September. In fact, women have accounted for all of 51,000 public sector jobs lost since September.
    • Detailed public sector information is not yet available by sex for January, but we know that of the total public sector losses (-29,000), there were losses at every level of government: federal (-12,000), state (-6,000), and local (-11,000). The greatest losses were in local government education (-8,700) and as of December 2013, women made up 73 percent of those workers.
    • Women’s gains in January were minor – their largest job gains were in construction and leisure and hospitality, with 3,000 additional jobs in each. Men outpaced women in both industries, with 45,000 construction and 21,000 leisure and hospitality jobs added in January.
    • Last month, I told you that women captured all of December’s weak job growth. But revised data for December released today show that women actually gained only 36,000 of the 75,000 jobs added in December—less than half of all the jobs added.

The Sequester Will Exacerbate Already Steep Public Sector Job Losses

The sequester is looming and recent estimates have shown that it would cost 750,000 jobs in 2013 alone. These losses would ripple through the economy, including public sector workers and government contractors, workers in other sectors who support these industries, and jobs in the overall economy that are supported when public sector workers spend their paychecks. These cuts would fall heavily on public sector employees – teachers, health care workers, first responders – a sector which can ill-afford more losses.

In fact, new NWLC analysis shows that for both men and women the public sector was the ONLY major sector which lost jobs between January 2012-January 2013. The sector overall lost 74,000 jobs in the last year, 63,000 of which – over 85 percent – were women’s jobs. Read more »

September Jobs Data Show Women's Unemployment Rate at Three and a Half Year Low

We're back this Friday with your monthly analysis on the BLS jobs numbers. September brought some good news, and here is what you need to know:

  1. In September, adult women’s unemployment rate hit a three and a half year low. Last month, adult women’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.0 percent – the lowest it’s been since February 2009. Similarly, adult men’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent – the lowest level since November 2008. The declines in unemployment rates from August to September show that we’re continuing to move in the right direction.
  2. Vulnerable groups of women shared in the drop in unemployment this month. While their unemployment rates remain much higher than for women and men overall, adult African American women (10.9 percent), adult Hispanic women (9.8 percent), and single moms (11.3 percent) all saw declines in their unemployment rates this month. These rates are still too high, but it’s good to see a variety of groups of women sharing in the positive change.
  3. Women and men shared equally in September’s job gains. This month women and men each gained 57,000 jobs, but women continue to lag behind men in the recovery overall due to public sector losses.

School’s Out for Teachers

We’re back this Friday with your monthly update on the BLS jobs numbers. Other things are back too – cooler temps are back, Monday night football is back, and kids are back to school – but one thing that isn’t back are teachers. Local education lost jobs last month, capping a year of losses totaling over 83,000. In fact, since the recovery started in June 2009, local education has lost 301,000 jobs. This is bad news for kids and for women, who make up over 70 percent of the positions in this sector.

These education losses are just part of the ongoing public sector losses. I know we hammered it home last month, but the big story for women this month is still public sector job losses. Over the recovery, women’s public sector job losses have wiped out a whopping 45 percent of their private sector gains. Since June 2009, women have now lost 450,000 public sector jobs, while they gained 999,000 private sector jobs.

How Public Sector Job Loss is Hurting the Recovery

Though the month wasn’t great all around - the economy added 96,000 jobs in August and the overall unemployment rate dropped slightly to 8.1 percent, hovering near the level it has been at since the start of 2012 - one positive trend is a slight decline in adult women’s unemployment rate– it is now 7.3 percent, the lowest rate since April 2009, though not by much. Read more »

Public Sector Job Cuts Aren’t Just Hurting Women’s Employment

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 »

April Jobs Data Show Slower Recovery as Congress Considers Cuts

Two steps forward, one step back. That’s the story of the recovery for women.

Our analysis of April’s monthly jobs data brought fairly positive news for women, who gained 73 percent of the 115,000 jobs last month, the largest share of monthly job gains for women since the start of the recovery. But the total monthly job gains in April were the lowest in 2012. And the story for women during the recovery overall isn’t as rosy.

Women have gained only 16 percent of the nearly 2.5 million jobs added during the recovery, and their slow gains are driven largely by public sector losses. In fact, for every two jobs women gained in the private sector during the recovery, they lost one in the public sector. Men also have lost public sector jobs during the recovery, but their public sector job losses are smaller both in absolute terms and relative to their private sector job gains, as the chart below shows.

Private and Public Sector Job Change in the Recovery (June 2009 to April 2012)

Other fast facts you should know:

  • Unemployment rates dropped slightly. April brought a slight decrease in the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent overall. Men’s unemployment rate also dropped slightly, to 7.5 percent. However, the unemployment rate for women held steady at 7.4 percent. The decreases in the unemployment rates are largely due to people leaving the labor force.

Across the Pond, Austerity Hurts Women Too

Tuesday, the New York Times published another article in its “Female Factor” series entitled “Women Bearing the Brunt of Austerity in Britain.” As you might imagine, reading it was like déjà vu. In the United Kingdom, like in the United States, budget cuts have caused stagnant wages and layoffs in the public sector, and cuts to vital programs like child care and pensions. And unsurprisingly, women are hit hardest.

Over the course of the recovery in this country, which officially began in June of 2009, we’ve reported on the public sector job losses that have especially hurt women. Our most recent numbers show that women, who make up 57 percent of the public workforce, have lost an even larger share of the hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs lost during the recovery.

Like American women, British women are overrepresented in the public sector – they comprise two-thirds of the workforce – so they are more likely to be affected by public sector cuts. The British government’s Office for Budget Responsibility predicts the public sector will likely lose an additional 710,000 jobs in the next five years, which will hurt women’s employment further. Read more »

November’s Drop in Unemployment News Leaves Vulnerable Groups Behind

Today’s jobs data seemed to have some good news – overall unemployment dropped to 8.6 percent, a level of unemployment we haven’t seen since before the start of the recovery.  However, our analysis shows some troubling trends. Despite the decreased unemployment in November, single mothers, black women, and black men saw their unemployment rise. And the reason for the drop in overall unemployment isn’t a big surge in the number of Americans finding work. In fact, more workers dropped out of the labor force last month than found jobs—and all of the workers who left the labor force last month were women and female teens.

More numbers behind the headlines:

  • Public sector losses continue. Last month the public sector lost 20,000 jobs for a total of 568,000 jobs lost in the public sector since the recovery began in June 2009. Nearly 66 percent of the public sector losses over this time are women’s job losses.