Today’s jobs data show that the economic recovery slowed down dramatically in May. The data show that for the previous three months, the economy has been gaining an average of 220,000 jobs each month but in May, added just 54,000 jobs. For women, the picture was even more bleak: they lost 1,000 jobs in May.
In general, overall job growth during the recovery has been extremely weak and stubbornly high unemployment rates, especially for vulnerable groups, have affected millions of families.
Our analysis shows that 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 nearly 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 959,000 jobs since the start of the recovery (July 2009 – present), women have lost 109,000 jobs. Heavy job losses in the public sector have disproportionately affected women and contributed to the dismal employment picture for women throughout the recovery. The recovery also has been inequitable in the private sector, where the economy has picked up more than 1.2 million jobs during the recovery but women gained just 178,000 (14.0 percent) jobs.
In addition, while the men’s unemployment rate has fallen nearly a whole percentage point since the start of the recovery, from 9.8 percent in July 2009 to 8.9 percent in May 2011, women’s unemployment has increased, from 7.7 percent in July 2009 to 8.0 percent in May 2011. However, unemployment ticked up for men as well as women last month, from 8.8 percent to 8.9 percent for men and 7.9 percent to 8.0 percent for women.
Unemployment also increased among some vulnerable populations last month. For example, single mothers saw their unemployment rate rise from 11.7 percent in April to 12.7 percent in May, a rate higher than the 12.3 percent average annual rate this group experienced during 2010.
I hope that this month’s news sounds an alarm bell for policymakers entertaining the idea of making deep cuts that could jeopardize our fragile economy and increase hardship for millions of women and families.