Posted on January 4, 2013 Issues: Unemployment

 (Washington, D.C.)  Adult women’s unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent in December from 7.0 percent in November.  This increase put adult women’s unemployment rate above adult men’s (flat at 7.2 percent in December) for the first time since September 2006, according to new analysis by the National Women’s Law Center.  The increase for adult women overall was largely driven by new women job seekers who could not find work.

“For the first time in over six years, the unemployment rate for adult women edged above that for adult men last month,” said Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center. “Despite continued job growth, as of December 2012, the economy had regained less than half of the jobs lost during the Great Recession.  Today’s data confirm that lawmakers must focus on promoting job growth.  Yet programs that create jobs, support struggling families, and strengthen our economy for the future are on the chopping block.  These cuts pose serious threats to the recovery overall—and especially to women’s jobs and economic security.”

Monthly Change in Unemployment Rates (November 2012 – December 2012)


November 2012

December 2012


 Adult Women (20+)

7.0 percent

7.3 percent

↑0.3 percentage points

 Adult Men (20+)

7.2 percent

7.2 percent


 Overall (16+)

7.8 percent

7.8 percent


 Source: Current Population Survey                                                                                           

The increase in unemployment was shared by many groups of women – rates rose in December for adult African-American women, single mothers, and slightly for adult white women.  Hispanic women were the exception; their unemployment rate declined to 9.4 percent from 10.3 percent in November.  The steady unemployment rate for men was not shared among all groups.  The unemployment rate for adult white men edged down in December to 6.2 percent from 6.4 percent in November while rates for adult African-American and Hispanic men rose.

Overall job growth for December was similar to recent months at 155,000 jobs.  During the recovery (June 2009-Dec. 2012) the economy has added 3,518,000 jobs, 47 percent of what it lost during the Great Recession (7,479,000).  As has been the trend for the recovery overall, in December private sector job gains (168,000) were offset by public sector job losses (-13,000).  In December, women bore the large majority (85 percent) of public sector job losses.  During the recovery overall women have suffered nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of public sector job losses.  *The Bureau of Labor Statistics did not release complete data on women’s private sector jobs due to ongoing revisions.

“The economy continues to be fragile,” Entmacher said.  “Millions of Americans are still looking for work.  As the fiscal debate continues, it’s important for lawmakers to keep their focus on investments that create more good jobs and expand opportunity for all.”



The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s legal rights.  The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women.  For more information on the Center, visit: