Today’s jobs data finally has some positive news: 216,000 jobs were added to the economy and unemployment rates were down for virtually every group from the previous month.
While the monthly news is certainly encouraging, our analysis of the data over time still illustrates that women are suffering from an inequitable recovery. Since the official start of the recovery in July 2009, all of the new job growth has gone to men while women actually lost jobs. Female workers suffered 30 percent of the job loss over the recession, but they haven’t regained 3 out of 10 jobs added to the economy in the recovery. In fact, while men have gained 757,000 jobs since the start of the recovery (July 2009 – present), women have actually lost 212,000 jobs.
Of the 216,000 jobs added to the economy in March, women gained 86,000, or 39.8 percent. Though this is an increase from February’s 66,000 added jobs, at this rate it will still take women 3 months before they gain a single net job since the recovery started — and years before either men or women will regain all the jobs lost during the recession.
While the men’s unemployment rate has fallen 1.3 percentage points since the start of the recovery to 8.6 percent in March, the women’s rate has not improved. Women’s overall unemployment rate rose above 7.7 percent after the start of the recovery in July 2009, first returning to 7.7 percent in March 2011.
Although unemployment rates have dropped for several vulnerable groups over the last month, rates remain high. Unemployment among single mothers has decreased since the start of the recovery, from 12.6 percent in July 2009 to 12.3 percent in March 2011. Both Hispanic men’s and women’s unemployment rates declined during the recovery, from 11.2 percent to 11.1 percent and 11.8 percent to 11.0 percent respectively. In contrast, African-American men’s and women’s unemployment rates have increased over the course of the recovery, from 16.2 percent to 16.8 percent and 11.8 percent to 12.5 percent, respectively.
The decline in the overall unemployment rate since the start of the recovery has been driven by a dramatic drop in unemployment among white men, whose unemployment rate fell from 9.1 percent in July 2009 to 7.7 percent in March 2011. The unemployment rate for white women returned to its level at the start of the recovery — 6.9 percent — last month.
Millions of women and families continue to struggle, and recovery is still far off for them. While we hope the jobs data will continue to improve as the months go by, proposed cuts to education, healthcare and vital services could jeopardize what little progress has been made.