Today’s release of January jobs data brought a bit of mixed news to the story of the recovery. This month, women gained nearly two out of every three jobs added to the economy, but public sector job losses continued and unemployment rates were essentially flat.
The good news this month is continued steady job growth – 157,000 jobs were added to the economy in January, about two-thirds of which went to women. The number isn’t as good as the previous few months, but shows that slowly, but surely, the economy, driven by private sector growth, continues to add jobs. The bad news in the jobs numbers came once again in the public sector: in January, public sector losses cut into private sector gains. Women disproportionately bore these public sector losses in January, mirroring a trend we’ve seen in the recovery overall.
The story on the unemployment rates is unfortunately not as positive. The story is we’re sort of stuck. Adult women’s unemployment rate was 7.3 percent again this month (equal to that of adult men) and it’s hovered right around this level since last August. While adult’s men’s unemployment rate has fallen more dramatically over the recovery as a whole, it has also been essentially stuck at this level since last September.
Even worse, unemployment rates are substantially higher for vulnerable groups of women: 12.3 percent for adult African-American women, 9.9 percent for adult Hispanic women, and 11.3 percent for single mothers.
The months ahead will be full of messy budget debates. But yet again, this month’s economic picture sends a message loud and clear – this is not the time for cuts to programs that create jobs and support families. Rather, let’s take steps to ensure a long and stable recovery that works for women and their families.