(Washington, D.C.)  Women gained more than half of the 175,000 jobs in added in February, according to new analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) of data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

“Women’s employment bounced back last month after January’s job losses.  Women gained more than half of 175,000 jobs added in February, and their unemployment rate held steady,” said Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security. “But the long-term unemployment rate for women increased, and remains historically high for women and men.  The refusal of some in Congress to extend emergency unemployment insurance benefits has left two million jobless workers and their families without this vital lifeline.  Congress needs to restore unemployment benefits—now.”

Women added 99,000 jobs in February while men added 76,000 jobs.  Women’s largest job gains were in professional and business services (which includes the temporary help sector) (+55,000), private education and health services (+24,000), and leisure and hospitality (+14,000).  Men’s largest job gains were in professional and business services (+24,000), wholesale trade (+16,400), and construction (+13,000). Women’s largest losses were in retail (-10,000) while men’s were in information (-12,000).

The unemployment rate for adult women (ages 20 and older) held steady at 5.9 percent between January and February, but their long-term unemployment rate increased by nearly three percentage points, and unemployment rates remained high for some groups of women and men. The share of unemployed adult women who had been searching for a job for six months or more increased in February to 37.7 percent from 34.8 percent in January. The share for adult men ticked up slightly to 36.7 percent in February from 36.5 percent in January.  In all, more than 3.8 million people had been looking for work for six months or more.  Because Congress let federal long-term unemployment benefits expire at the end of 2013, two million workers have been cut off from benefits according to the National Employment Law Project.

Unemployment rates for vulnerable groups in February remained substantially higher than the overall rate (6.7 percent), as well as the rates for adult men (6.4 percent) and adult women (5.9 percent):  adult African-American women (9.9 percent), adult Hispanic women (8.8 percent), single mothers (9.1 percent), adult African-American men (12.9 percent), and adult Hispanic men (7.3 percent). The rates for all groups are about one-and-a-quarter to one-and-a-half times higher than at the start of the recession.

The economy achieved a benchmark of sorts in February.  If the economy had not lost any public sector jobs during the recovery, the nation would now have regained the 7.4 million jobs lost during in the recession – but that would still not be enough to reach pre-recession employment levels.  The economy lost 7.4 million jobs in the recession (December 2007 – June 2009); in February 2014 private sector job gains during the recovery topped 7.4 million for the first time.  But since the nation lost 725,000 public sector jobs during the recovery, the economy is 651,000 jobs short of recovering all the jobs lost in the recession. And there is still a long road ahead; the Hamilton Project estimates that, factoring in population growth, if the economy adds an average of 175,000 jobs a month it will take until 2020 to reach pre-recession employment levels.