Posted on February 3, 2012 Issues: Data on Poverty & Income Unemployment

(Washington, D.C.) Analysis by the National Women’s Law Center of jobs data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment dropped for both men and women in January, and both gained jobs. The substantial decline in men’s unemployment since the start of the recovery—and the slight increase in women’s unemployment during the same period – equalized men’s and women’s unemployment rates in January at 7.7 percent.

“Today’s jobs data show that the recovery is starting to reach women—but women still have a long way to go,” said Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center.  “Unemployment dropped for women and men last month, but women’s unemployment rate of 7.7 percent is still slightly higher than their 7.6 percent rate at the start of the recovery in June 2009.  Women gained nearly 40 percent of the jobs added last month, but have gained less than 8 percent of the 1.9 million net jobs added since the start of the recovery. ”

Men’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.3 percentage points in January, women’s by 0.2 percentage points, bringing both men’s and women’s unemployment rates to 7.7 percent in January.  This is the first time those rates have been equal since the official start of the recession in December 2007—when unemployment rates for both men and women were a much lower 4.4 percent.  Men’s unemployment rate increased more than women’s during the recession, but has dropped by 2.2 percentage points during the recovery.  Women’s unemployment rate has risen by 0.1 percentage point since the start of the recovery.

Women's Unemployment Flat in Recovery


Unemployment also declined for single mothers and black men and women in January, but rose for Hispanic men and women.

Women gained 95,000 jobs last month—39 percent of the 243,000 jobs added.  The largest gains for women were in professional and business services, which include temporary help services, and leisure and hospitality.  Women lost 7,000 public sector jobs last month, slightly offsetting private sector gains.  Since the start of the recovery in June 2009, women have gained 150,000 net jobs—less than 8 percent of the 1.9 million net jobs added to the economy over that period.  Public sector job losses have been the major cause of the slow recovery for women.  Since June 2009, women lost 414,000 public sector jobs—69 percent of the 597,000 public sector jobs lost.

“While there are encouraging signs in today’s data, millions of Americans are still struggling, Entmacher said.  “Almost 13 million people are unemployed, and nearly half of jobless adults are still searching for work after more than six months of unemployment.   Failure to continue federal emergency unemployment benefits that expire this month would be a blow to millions of hard-pressed families and the still fragile recovery.”