WASHINGTON – Data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for January 2011 show a continuing and troubling gender imbalance in the distribution of job gains, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).
“The improvements in the overall employment picture obscure what’s happening to women,” said NWLC Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell. “In fact, women have lost ground since the recovery began. Even though they experienced slight gains in January, women have lost jobs and their unemployment rate has risen since July 2009.”
Based on NWLC calculations using today’s revised BLS data, from the official start of the recovery in July 2009 through December 2010, men gained more than 406,000 jobs while women lost 370,000—a gap of 776,000 jobs. This gap has widened in the new year to 804,000 jobs, as men gained 32,000 jobs in January 2011 while women added only 4,000—just 11.1 percent of the jobs added last month. While women lost three in every 10 jobs cut over the course of the recession (December 2007 – June 2009), they have filled fewer than one in every 20 since job growth picked up in 2010.
NWLC found that continued job losses in public sector employment were a major contributor to the low net job growth for women in January. Of the 14,000 jobs lost in the public sector last month, women lost 10,000 (71 percent). Over the course of the recovery, women have lost 84 percent of the 309,000 public sector jobs lost.
The dramatic drop in the overall unemployment rate in January, from 9.4 to 9 percent, was driven by an improvement in men’s unemployment rate. Women’s unemployment rate declined only slightly in January, from 8.1 percent to 7.9 percent, and remained higher than women’s 7.7 percent rate at the start of the recovery. In contrast, men’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 percent in December to 8.8 percent in January, putting it a full percentage point lower than men’s 9.8 percent unemployment rate at the start of the recovery.
Some particularly vulnerable groups experienced increased unemployment during January. Single mothers saw their unemployment rate rise from 12 percent in December to 12.7 percent in January, a rate higher than the 12.3 percent average annual rate this group experienced during 2010. Unemployment among Hispanics also rose last month, from 11.1 to 11.5 percent for women and from 12.8 to 13 percent for men.
“Today’s data make it clear that recovery is still out of reach for millions of Americans. And if states and localities are forced to make additional cuts in critical public services, women may fall even further behind. Congress must focus its attention on creating jobs and fostering a recovery that works for everyone, not making deep cuts that will cost jobs and harm struggling families.”
The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s legal rights. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women.