By: Anne Morrison, FellowPosted on January 9, 2015 Issues: Data on Poverty & Income Unemployment

Today’s BLS jobs report gives us the opportunity to take a look back at 2014 and see how the labor force is faring. Our analysis shows that women and men both benefited from a year of strong job growth and declining unemployment rates.  Women gained 44 percent of all jobs added in 2014, and the unemployment rate for adult women is the lowest it’s been in more than six years. In fact, unemployment rates declined across the board in 2014:

  • The overall rate declined to 5.6 percent in December 2014, down from 6.7 percent in December 2013.
  • The unemployment rate for adult women declined to 5.0 percent, down from 6.0 percent in December 2013. 
  • The unemployment rate for adult men declined to 5.3 percent, down from 6.3 percent in December 2013.
  • The unemployment rates for adult African American women declined to 8.2 percent from 10.4 percent and for adult African American men to 11.0 percent from 11.5 percent.
  • The unemployment rates for adult Hispanic women declined to 6.2 percent from 8.1 percent and for adult Hispanic men to 5.7 percent from 7.5 percent.
  • The unemployment rate for single mothers declined to 7.8 percent in December 2014 from 8.7 percent in December 2013.

Women added 1,284,000 jobs in 2014, 43.5 percent of the 2,952,000 jobs added. However, between December 2013 and November 2014, 35.7 percent of women’s job gains were in the low-wage sectors of retail, leisure & hospitality, temporary help services, home health care services, and nursing & residential care facilities (gender data are not yet available for all five sectors for December 2014).  Over the same timeframe, 31.6 percent of men’s new jobs were added in low-wage sectors.

This job growth is more diversified than previous years’, but between the start of the recovery in June 2009 and November 2014, 60.6 percent of women’s total job growth and 40.0 percent of men’s total job growth has come from job gains in low-wage sectors. Compare this to the labor force at the start of the recovery, when low-wage jobs accounted for 28.1 percent of women’s jobs and 23.0 percent of men’s. These jobs simply don’t pay enough for families to survive. New higher minimum wages should help to ease the burden, but there is still much more to be done to support workers and their families.