If you’ve taken a look at social media today, you have probably seen that it is #BeyDay, the affectionate hashtag celebrating the fact that September 4th is Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s birthday. What you might not have seen today is the release of August’s jobs data, and the news that women’s unemployment, 4.7 percent in August, is at the lowest rate it’s been in more than 7 years — before Beyoncé celebrated her 27th!
This is good news for women and good news for the economy. But NWLC’s analysis shows that rosy numbers for women overall mask the reality for various groups of marginalized women:
- Black women’s unemployment went up a bit this month, instead of down (from 8.0 percent in July to 8.1 percent in August).
- A similar trend occurred for Latinas, whose unemployment rose to 7.0 percent in August from 6.8 percent in July.
- Among women with disabilities, the unemployment rate for women ages 16-64 with a disability was 11.5 percent in July, more than double that of women overall (5.4 percent). So although White women’s unemployment decreased from 4.3 percent in July to 4.1 percent in August, an intersectional view is necessarily to see the real picture, that the positive gains from the continued recovery are not being felt equally by all groups of women.
- We also saw that unemployment for single mothers ticked up slightly, from 8.0 percent in July to 8.1 percent in August.
Women with jobs are facing their own challenges. Today’s numbers revealed that in August 3.4 million women held multiple jobs. We know that women are over represented in low-wage jobs, and that many women need to work more than one job to make ends meet. Not only do these jobs pay poorly, they often require schedules that wreak havoc on workers’ lives. Imagine trying to arrange child care if you are not notified of your work schedule until hours before your shift starts.
This month’s jobs numbers make clear the need for lawmakers to enact policies that raise wages and improve conditions for working women—and prevent the looming cuts to programs that help struggling families afford nutritious food, access the child care they need to work, and keep a roof over their heads.
On a day when we celebrate the fabulous, feminism-embracing Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, here’s to hoping that these numbers will look significantly better by Beyoncé’s next birthday.