The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data showed that the overall unemployment rate declined from 3.6% to 3.5% and similarly decreased for many demographic groups. However, the rates for Black women, Latinas, and Latinos all increased slightly. There were gains across the board in labor force participation rates, and increased unemployment rates for these groups were likely due to Black women, Latinas, and Latinos joining the labor force as unemployed workers.

Women ages 20 and over joined the labor force in large numbers in December, with 398,000 more women now working or looking for work than the previous month. By comparison, 169,000 men ages 20 and over joined the labor force last month. Despite women’s labor force participation gains in December, there continues to be a large gender gap in labor force participation compared to pre-pandemic.  There are 666,000 fewer women in the labor force now than in February 2020, before the pandemic started. Meanwhile, 923,000 more men are in the labor force now than in February. Women make up 100% of net labor force leavers ages 20 and over since February 2020.

The data also shows that 223,000 jobs were added in December, 117,000 of which (52.5%) were women’s jobs. December’s gains mark 24 months of consecutive job gains for women and means women now hold 518,000 more net jobs than in February 2020; by comparison, men hold 721,000 more net jobs now than in February 2020.