BLS Employment Situation Breakdown: Women’s Wins and Losses in December 2018

Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its first employment report of the new year. Although we saw some gains for women and the economy at large during December, it also appears that our new Congress has its work cut out for it to improve employment outcomes for women of color.
But let’s start with the good news. The economy added 312,000 jobs in December – more than twice the number of jobs that were added in November (155,000). And more than half (54%) of jobs added to the economy in December went to women. The overall and women’s unemployment rates rose slightly from 3.7 to 3.9% and 3.4 to 3.5%, respectively. But the unemployment rate for Latinas decreased from 4.6 to 4.3%.
It’s great to see that more jobs went to women last month, but BLS’s employment report also shows that these gains were not evenly distributed between racial and ethnic groups of women. For instance, the unemployment rate for white, non-Hispanic women remained steady at 3.2% while the rate for Black women increased by almost a full percentage point from 5.0 to 5.9%. And what’s more, Black women had a higher long-term unemployment rate compared to women and men of any other race or ethnicity.

So, we should celebrate the major gains for working women that we saw this past month…and also the historic increase in the number of women and women of color working in Congress! But as we ring in the new year and set policy goals for 2019, it is important to keep in mind that racial and ethnic disparities in unemployment still exist which need to be addressed.