(Washington, D.C.) Women gained 86,000 jobs in May, but many of these were in low-wage sectors and women lost jobs in the public sector, according to a new analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) of data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Women accounted for 40 percent of the 217,000 jobs added last month, but their loss of 8,000 public sector jobs cut into their private sector gains,” said Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security. “Long-term unemployment remained at historically high levels for women and men, but nearly three million jobless workers have lost unemployment insurance benefits since December. Continued budget cuts and the failure to restore emergency unemployment benefits are slowing the recovery. It’s time for Congress to change course.”

 May job gains are disproportionately low-wage for women:

  • The economy added 217,000 jobs in May. Women gained 86,000 jobs while men gained 131,000.
  • Women’s job gains were disproportionately in low-wage sectors.  Three of every ten jobs gained by women in May were in the low-wage sectors of leisure & hospitality (+20,000) and retail (+4,900), compared to two of every ten jobs gained by men (leisure & hospitality +19,000; retail +7,600).
  • Women’s largest job gains were in private education and health services (+43,000), professional and business services (which includes the temporary help services sector) (+23,000), and leisure & hospitality (+20,000).
  • Men’s largest job gains were in professional and business services (+32,000), private education and health services (+20,000), and leisure & hospitality (+19,000).
  • Women’s largest job losses were in the public sector (-8,000), while men’s largest losses were in information (-3,000).

May 2014 Jobs

Public sector job losses have slowed the recovery, especially for women:

  • Since the start of the recovery in June 2009, women’s public sector job losses have wiped out 13.0 percent of their private sector gains.  Men’s public sector job losses have wiped out 5.6 percent of their private sector gains.

Unemployment rates for adult men and women (20 and older) were unchanged:

  • 5.7 percent of adult women and 5.9 percent of adult men were unemployed in May.
  • Unemployment rates for vulnerable groups remained substantially higher than the overall rates for adult men and women: adult African-American women (10.0 percent), adult Hispanic women (7.5 percent), adult African-American men (11.5 percent), and single mothers (8.4 percent).


May 2014 Unemployment

Long-term unemployment remained historically high in May:

  • Nearly 3.4 million people have been looking for work for six months or more.
  • 37.6 percent of unemployed adult women had been searching for a job for six months or more in May. The share for adult men was 38.9 percent. Prior to this recession, long-term unemployment rates had never been this high since records began to be kept in 1972.
  • Since Congress let federal long-term unemployment benefits expire at the end of 2013, approximately 3 million workers have been cut off from benefits.