Latinas’ Unemployment at Lowest Rate in Nearly 8½ Years

This morning, we delved into the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ release of jobs and unemployment data for the month of February. While the headline unemployment figures for the population overall, adult women and adult men (20 and older) were flat (at 4.9 percent, 4.5 percent, and 4.5 percent, respectively), digging deeper revealed a different story.
Poverty homepageWhen we looked at unemployment rates among vulnerable groups of women we noticed that the unemployment rate for adult Latinas dropped half a percentage point, from 5.9 percent in January to 5.4 percent in February. In November 2010 this rate hit a peak of 12.1 percent and has been generally trending downward since.* The unemployment rate for adult Latinas hasn’t been below 5.4 percent in nearly 8 ½ years, since October 2007. While this is a good sign, there is still a long way to go. The rate for adult Latinas is 1.5 percentage points higher than the rate for adult white women (3.9 percent in February), and Latinas continue to be heavily overrepresented in low-wage jobs, which often leave women struggling to make ends meet and impose erratic and irregular scheduling requirements that make caregiving responsibilities extremely challenging.
Looking at unemployment rates among other vulnerable groups:

  • Adult African American women’s unemployment rate was unchanged between January and February, at 7.9 percent.
  • Among women with disabilities (16-64) the unemployment rate was 12.9 percent, compared to 4.7 percent for women (16-64) without disabilities.
  • For single mothers, unemployment ticked down from 7.1 percent in January to 7.0 percent in February.

Looking at February’s job gains:

  • Women gained 167,000 jobs—68 percent—of all 242,000 jobs added last month.
  • Women’s largest gains were in the sectors of private education & health services (+62,000), leisure & hospitality (+36,000), and retail (+19,500).
  • Men’s largest jobs gains this month were in retail (+35,400), private education & health services (+24,000) and construction (+16,000). Men lost large numbers of jobs in mining and logging (-17,000) and manufacturing (-15,000).

We hope that policymakers will support policies that invest in women and their families, such as increased funding for child care and early learning programs and a higher minimum wage, so that future jobs reports will bring even better news for groups of vulnerable women.
*Comparable data are available beginning in January 2003.