(Washington, D.C.)  In an overall strong month for job growth, the economy added 288,000 jobs in April, but women gained jobs disproportionately in low-wage sectors, according to a new analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) of data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.     

“While April’s strong job gains for women and men are encouraging, there are some troubling signs,” said Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security. “Jobs in the low-wage sectors of retail and leisure & hospitality accounted for three times as large a share of women’s job gains (31 percent) as men’s (10 percent). This underscores why raising the minimum wage is critical to women—and why it’s time for a minority of Senators to stop blocking an increase that a large majority of Americans favor.” 

April job gains are disproportionately low-wage for women:

  • The economy added 288,000 jobs in April. Women gained 166,000 jobs while men added 122,000.
  • Women’s largest job gains were in professional and business services (which includes the temporary help services sector) (+42,000), private education and health services (+33,000), leisure and hospitality (+27,000), and retail (+23,900). 
  • Men’s largest job gains were in professional and business services (+33,000) and construction (+31,000).
  • Women’s gains were disproportionately in the low-wage sectors of retail and leisure & hospitality.  These industries accounted for more than three in every ten jobs women gained (31 percent) but only one in every ten jobs that men gained (10 percent).
  • Women accounted for 81 percent of the 63,000 jobs added in retail and leisure & hospitality.


Women’s and men’s unemployment rates dropped in April due to declines in labor force participation:

  • The unemployment rate for adult women (ages 20 and older) declined to 5.7 percent in April from 6.2 percent in March, their lowest rate in nearly five and a half years. The decline last month was due in part to a decrease in their labor force participation rate to 58.5 percent in April from 58.8 percent in March.
  • Adult men’s unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, down from 6.2 percent in March.  Adult men’s labor force participation rate also declined to 71.9 percent in April from 72.3 percent in March.
  • Unemployment rates for vulnerable groups also declined in April but most remained substantially higher than the overall rates for adult men and women: adult African-American women (10.4 percent), adult Hispanic women (6.6 percent), adult African-American men (10.8 percent), and single mothers (8.5 percent).


Long-term unemployment remained historically high in April:

  • Nearly 3.5 million people have been looking for work for six months or more.
  • Four in ten (40.0 percent) unemployed adult women had been searching for a job for six months or more in March. The share for adult men was 40.3 percent.
  • Because Congress let federal long-term unemployment benefits expire at the end of 2013, 2.6 million workers have been cut off from benefits.