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Unemployment & the Economy

About Unemployment & the Economy

IWPR publishes occasional analyses of the impact of the business cycle on women’s employment outcomes. Between December 2007 and June 2009, the U.S. economy was in the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Because much of the slowdown has occurred in traditionally male fields such as manufacturing and construction—while a few traditionally female fields such as health and education have shown job growth or minimal job loss—many reports have focused on the job losses among men in the labor force. IWPR highlighted that:

    • Substantial job losses occurred among women in such sectors as retail, hospitality, and personal and business services. Women lost about 2 million jobs between December 2007 and June 2009 and unemployment was 8.4 percent of women aged 16 and over as of November 2010.
    • Once they lose their jobs, women and men spend a similar number of weeks unemployed; in December 2009, unemployed women and men had been out of work for an astounding 29 weeks, on average.
    • A smaller share of unemployed women collect unemployment insurance benefits compared with unemployed men. Between December 2007 and November 2009, 36.8 percent of unemployed women received unemployment benefits, on average, compared with 40.3 percent of unemployed men.

In the recovery women regained all the jobs they lost in the recession more quickly than men regained their lost jobs.

      Resources

      Women and Men in the Recovery: Where the Jobs Are ; Women’s Recover Jobs Lost in Recession in Year Five | Briefing Paper (October 2014)

      Women's and Men's Employment and Unemployment in the Great Recession | Briefing Paper

      Visit our external resources page for more information on this topic.

      To see our experts on this and other initiatives, click here.

      Latest Reports from IWPR

      Nearly Half of Currently Exempt Women Workers Aged 18 to 34 Will Gain Coverage Under DOL’s New Proposed Overtime Salary Threshold
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (August 2015)

      When looking at all newly covered female salaried workers by age, Millennial women workers, aged 18-34 years old, will benefit most from an increase in access to overtime pay. As shown in Figure 1, comparing different age groups, the greatest percentage increase in newly covered workers will be seen among Millennial women workers. Forty-eight percent of formerly exempt Millennial women will be covered, compared with 32 percent of working women aged 35-49, 31 percent of working women aged 50-64, and 31 percent of working women aged 65 and older. These newly covered include those currently working overtime and those not currently working overtime.

       

      How the New Overtime Rule Will Help Women & Families
      by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Hero Ashman, Jeffrey Hayes, Ph.D., and Hailey Nguyen (August 2015)

      This report, a collaboration between the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and MomsRising, is an analysis of the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed change to the overtime threshold and how this change will affect working women. The report focuses on the 5.9 million workers who would be “newly covered” by the proposed increase and explores the differences in the impacts of the higher earnings threshold by sex, and among women by race/ethnicity, household type, and occupation.

       

      Women Gain 115,000 Jobs in July and Men Gain 100,000 Jobs
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (August 2015)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the August employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women gained 115,000 jobs and men gained 100,000 for a total of 215,000 jobs added in July. The overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.3 percent from June.

       

      Women Gain Two Out of Three New Jobs in June: Women Gained 150,000 and Men Gained 73,000 Jobs
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (July 2015)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the July employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women gained 150,000 jobs and men gained 73,000 for a total of 223,000 jobs added in June. The overall unemployment rate decreased to 5.3 percent in June from 5.5 percent in May.

       

      Strong Job Gains for Women in May: Women Gained 189,000 and Men Gained 91,000 Jobs
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (June 2015)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the June employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May women gained 189,000 jobs and men gained 91,000 for a total of 280,000 jobs added in the month. The overall unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.5 percent in May from 5.4 percent in April. (In May, the number of people employed increased 272,000 and the number unemployed, but looking for work, grew 125,000 while the number not in the labor force dropped by 208,000.)

       

      Stronger Job Gains for Men in April: Women Gained 68,000 and Men Gained 155,000 Jobs
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2015)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the May employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April women gained 68,000 jobs and men gained 155,000 for a total of 223,000 jobs added in the month. The overall unemployment rate declined slightly to 5.4 percent in April from 5.5 percent in March.

       

      Slower Job Gains in March: Women Gained 105,000 and Men Gained 21,000 Jobs
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (April 2015)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the April employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of March men hold more jobs (71,519,000) than when the recession began (70,769,000 in December 2007) seven years earlier. Due to women’s relatively stronger job growth in several of the last few years, their total number of jobs lost in the recession has been recovered for some time (69,664,000 jobs in March 2015 vs 67,581,000 jobs in December 2007 when the recession began). The overall unemployment rate remained steady at 5.5 percent from February to March.

       
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      Moynihan’s Half Century: Have We Gone to Hell in a Hand Basket?
      by Philip N. Cohen, Heidi Hartmann, Jeff Hayes and Chandra Childers (March 2015)

      In The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, published in 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously argued that the fundamental obstacle to racial equality was the instability of Black families, and especially the prevalence of single-mother families. That same year, he predicted that the spread of single-parent families would result not only in rising poverty and inequality but also in soaring rates of crime and violence. Half a century later, we report that the changes in family structure that concerned him have continued, becoming widespread among Whites as well, but that they do not explain recent trends in poverty and inequality. In fact, a number of the social ills Moynihan assumed would accompany these changes have actually decreased.

       

      Job Gains Continue in 2015: Women Gained 101,000 and Men Gained 156,000 Jobs in January
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (February 2015)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the February employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of January men hold more jobs (71,434,000) than when the recession began (70,769,000 in December 2007) seven years earlier. Due to women’s relatively stronger job growth in several of the last few years, their total number of jobs lost in the recession has been recovered for some time (69,415,000 jobs in January 2015 vs 67,581,000 jobs in December 2007 when the recession began). The overall unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.7 percent in January from 5.6 percent in December (an amount that is not statistically significant).

       

      Men Finally Regain Jobs Lost in Recession 14 Months After Women: Men Finally Regain Jobs Lost in Recession 14 Months After Women: Women Gained 108,000 Jobs in November
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (December 2014)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the December employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), men now hold more jobs (70,954,000) than when the recession began (70,769,000 in December 2007) and even their pre-recession peak (70,946,000 in June 2007). The unemployment rate remained at 5.8 percent in November. Due to women’s strong job growth the total number of jobs lost in the recession has been recovered for some time (140,0450,000 jobs in November 2014 vs 138,350,000 jobs in December 2007 when the recession began).

       

      Women Gained 127,000 Jobs in October; Men Still 71,000 Short from Pre-Recession Employment Levels
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (November 2014)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the November employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although the total number of jobs lost in the recession has been recovered (139,680,000 jobs in October 2014 vs. 138,350,000 jobs in December 2007, when the recession began), men are still short 71,000 jobs from the start of the recession. In October, men gained 87,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls, while women gained 127,000 for an increase of 214,000 total jobs in October.

       

      Women and Men in the Recovery: Where the Jobs Are; Women Recover Jobs Lost in Recession in Year Five
      by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Elyse Shaw, and Rachel O'Connor (November 2014)

      While the number of jobs dropped steeply, particularly for men, in the Great Recession, slow job growth has characterized the recovery. In the first two years of the recovery, men saw faster job growth than women. By the third year of recovery, in terms of share of jobs lost that were regained, women’s job growth saw pronounced gains and largely caught up to men’s. Within the recovery’s fourth year, the percentage of lost jobs regained by women overall exceeded that of lost jobs regained by men. The fifth year of recovery saw women surpass their pre-recession levels of employment, while men have not yet made up their recession job losses. As of June 2014, men had regained 90.1 percent of the jobs they lost in the recession and women had regained 136.3 percent of theirs.

       

      Stronger Job Growth in September Puts Men within Striking Distance of their Pre-Recession Employment Level
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (October 2014)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the October employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although the total number of jobs lost in the recession has been recovered (139,435,000 jobs in September 2014 vs. 138,350,000 jobs in December 2007 when the recession began), men are still short 142,000 jobs from the start of the recession. In September, men gained 147,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls, while women gained 101,000 for an increase of 248,000 total jobs in September. The unemployment rate decreased to 5.9 percent in September from 6.1 percent in August.

       

      Women Gained 2 Out of Every 3 Jobs Added in August; Men Still Short 350,000 Jobs from Pre-Recession Employment Levels
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (September 2014)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the September employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although the total number of jobs lost in the recession has been recovered (139,118,000 jobs in August 2014 vs 138,350,000 jobs in December 2007 when the recession began), men are still short 350,000 from the start of the recession. In August, men gained 51,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls, while women gained 91,000 for an increase of 142,000 total jobs in August. The unemployment rate decreased to 6.1 percent in August from 6.2 percent in July, essentially the same.

       

      With Much-Needed Job Growth in July, Men Have Recovered 94% of Jobs They Lost in Recession
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (August 2014)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the August employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although the total number of jobs lost in the recession has been recovered (139,004,000 jobs in July 2014 vs 138,350,000 jobs in December 2007 when the recession began), men are still short 392,000 from their prerecession peak. In July, men gained 141,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls, while women gained 68,000 for an increase of 209,000 total jobs in July. BLS revisions of prior payroll jobs data for two previous months increased the number of jobs gained by men in May and June by 70,000, but decreased the number of jobs gained for women by 50,000 during the same period. For May, June, and July, two of three new jobs went to men. The unemployment rate increased to 6.2 percent in July from 6.1 percent in June, essentially the same.

       

      Job Growth in June Strong for Women and Men; Men Still Short 582,000 Jobs from Pre-Recession Peak
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (July 2014)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the July employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although the total number of jobs lost in the recession has been recovered (138,780,000 jobs in June 2014 vs 138,350,000 jobs in December 2007 when the recession began), men are still short 582,000 from their pre-recession peak. Women regained their peak in September 2013. In June, women gained 158,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls, while men gained 130,000 for an increase of 288,000 total jobs in June. The unemployment rate decreased to 6.1 percent in June from 6.3 percent in May.

       

      Men Still 699,000 Jobs Short of Employment Recovery; Strong Job Gains in May for Men and Women in Female-Dominated Industries
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (June 2014)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the June employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although the total number of jobs lost in the recession has been recovered (138,463,000 jobs in May 2014 vs. 138,350,000 jobs in December 2007, when the recession began), men are still short 699,000 from their prerecession peak. Women regained their peak in August 2013. In May, women gained 86,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls, while men gained 131,000 for an increase of 217,000 total jobs in May. In the past year, men have gained more than half the new jobs added (53 percent vs. 47 percent for women).

       

      Women Gained 166,000 Jobs in April; Men Gained 51 Percent of Jobs Added in the Past Year
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2014)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the May employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women gained 166,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls in April, while men gained 122,000 for an increase of 288,000 total jobs in April. Women’s employment growth was strongest in Professional and Business Services (42,000 jobs gained by women), Education and Health Services (33,000 jobs gained by women), Leisure and Hospitality (27,000 jobs gained by women), Retail Trade (24,000 jobs gained by women, and Government (13,000 jobs gained by women).

       

      Women Gained 99,000 Jobs in March
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (April 2014)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the April employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women gained 99,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls in March, while men gained 93,000 for an increase of 192,000 jobs in March. In March, women’s employment growth was strongest in Professional and Business Services (29,000 jobs gained by women), Retail Trade (26,000 jobs gained by women), Education and Health Services (24,000 jobs gained by women), and Leisure and Hospitality (15,000 jobs gained by women).

       

      Women Gained 99,000 Jobs in February
      by Institute for Women's Policy Research (March 2014)

      According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the March employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women gained 99,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls in February, while men gained 76,000 for a net increase of 175,000 jobs in February. In February, women’s employment growth was strongest in Professional and Business Services (55,000 jobs gained by women), Education and Health Services (24,000 jobs gained by women), Leisure and Hospitality (14,000 jobs gained by women), Financial Activities (12,000 jobs gained by women), and Government (11,000 jobs gained by women). Women lost 16,000 jobs in Trade, Transportation, and Utilities including 10,000 jobs in Retail Trade alone.

       
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