Posted on September 7, 2012 Issues: Unemployment Workplace

(Washington, D.C.) Analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) of jobs data released today shows that adult women’s unemployment rate declined last month to 7.3 percent, the lowest level since April 2009, but their job gains were modest.  Women gained 43,000 net jobs in August, adding 59,000 private sector jobs but losing 16,000 public sector jobs.  Local education—a sector where women hold over 70 percent of the positions—continued to lose jobs; since last August, 83,600 local education jobs have been lost.  Since the start of the recovery in June 2009, women have gained 999,000 private sector jobs – but lost 450,000 public sector jobs.

“Today’s jobs data present a mixed picture for women,” said Joan Entmacher, NWLC Vice President for Family Economic Security. “Women’s unemployment rate is lower than it’s been at any time since April 2009.  But overall job growth was modest last month and public sector job losses continue to hit women especially hard. Women’s public sector losses have wiped out 45 percent of their private sector gains over the course of the recovery.  Continued cuts in local education, where 83,600 jobs have been lost since last August, also mean more crowded classrooms as students return to school.” 
The unemployment rate for adult women (ages 20 and older) in August 2012 was 7.3 percent, down 0.2 percentage points since July and 0.3 percentage points since June 2009.  Adult men’s unemployment rate was 7.6 percent last month, down 0.1 percentage points from July and 2.3 percentage points since June 2009. 

The unemployment rates for some vulnerable groups of women increased last month. The unemployment rate for adult black women increased to 12.0 percent from 11.5 percent in July.  The unemployment rate for single mothers increased to 12.3 percent from 11.7 percent in July (not seasonally adjusted).  For adult Hispanic women, the unemployment rate declined but only slightly to 10.3 percent from 10.5 percent in July (not seasonally adjusted).  The long-term unemployment rate remained high in August; over four in ten jobless adult women and men had been looking for work for six months or longer.

The sectors with the most growth last month for women were private education and health services, (+22,000); leisure and hospitality (+14,000); and professional and business services (+13,000).  Last month, women’s heaviest job losses were in the public sector (-16,000); men gained public sector jobs (+9,000).  In manufacturing, jobs were lost by both women (-4,000) and men (-11,000).  In retail, continuing a trend seen over the course of the recovery, women lost jobs (-900) while men gained (+7,000).

“Today’s numbers highlight the critical need to speed up this recovery, not slow it down,” added Entmacher.  “When Congress returns next week, it needs to focus on strengthening our economy and helping families get back on their feet, not giving more tax breaks to those who need them least.”