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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.


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

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Latest Reports from IWPR

Is the Recovery Starting for Women? Slow Job Growth in October for Both Women and Men.
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (November 2011)

Job growth slowed in October with 80,000 jobs added to nonfarm payrolls. This is down from 104,000 new jobs in August and 158,000 in September. (September’s gains included more than 40,000 Verizon workers returning after a strike. August and September’s totals were revised by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in November). Women’s employment now appears to be rising. In October women gained 66,000 jobs, but men gained only 14,000. The revised numbers for August and September show 136,000 new jobs for women compared with 126,000 for men.


Slow Job Growth in September Points to Need for Federal Help with Job Creation
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (October 2011)


Recommendations for Improving Women’s Employment in the Recovery
by Women's Scholars Forum (September 2011)

In the current economic recovery, women are facing a gap in employment that jeopardizes the well-being and economic security of themselves and their families. This briefing paper, prepared by a group of scholars and researchers collaborating as the Women Scholars Forum, proposes specific strategies to meet the needs of women facing joblessness in the recovery from the Great Recession of 2007–2009. This group, noting that women’s earnings are essential to the welfare of their families, is especially concerned that federal programs reach those most in need, including single mothers, women of color, and those with less education. The members of the Women Scholars Forum, listed below, offer these recommendations in order to achieve job growth and economic prosperity.

#C384, Briefing Paper, 5 pages

The Job Loss Tsunami of the Great Recession: Wave Recedes for Men, Not for Women
by Heidi Hartmann, Jeffrey Hayes (July 2011)


Monthly Number of Women and Men on Payrolls (Seasonally Adjusted), December 2007- April 2011
by Jeffrey Hayes, Ph.D. (May 2011)


Monthly Number of Women and Men on Payrolls (Seasonally Adjusted), December 2007– February 2011
by (March 2011)


Women and Men’s Employment and Unemployment in the Great Recession
by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Ashley English, Jeffrey Hayes, Ph.D. (January 2010)

#C373, Briefing Paper, 67 pages

The Workforce Investment Act and Women’s Progress: Does WIA Funded Training Reinforce Sex Segregation in the Labor Market and the Gender Wage Gap?
by Ariane Hegewisch, Helen Luyri (December 2009)

#C72, Briefing Paper, 8 pages

Unemployment Among Single Mother Families
by Ashley English, Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Ariane Hegewisch (August 2009)

Women who maintain families without a spouse present are almost twice as likely as married men to be unemployed, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for August 2009. One of every eight women (12.2 percent) who are the sole breadwinners in their families is unemployed compared with one of every sixteen married men.

#C369, fact sheet, 4 pages
Preview not available

The Impact of the Current Economic Downturn on Women
by Heidi Hartmann (June 2008)

Testimony presented to the Joint Economic Committee At the hearing: “The Employment Situation: May 2008” June 6, 2008


Women at Greater Risk of Economic Insecurity: A Gender Analysis of the Rockefeller Foundation’s American Worker Survey
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D., Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Claudia Williams (April 2008)

In February 2007, at the request of the Rockefeller Foundation, the consulting firm Yankelovich fielded a survey to explore Americans’ sense of economic insecurity. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research analyzed the survey data to explore impacts based on gender, racial and ethnic identity, education, employment status, and other important demographic characteristics. This report highlights IWPR’s findings.

#D482, report, 27 pages
Preview not available

The Unemployment Modernization Act: Improving UI Equity and Adequacy for Women
by Vicky Lovell (September 2007)

Preview not available

Women and the Economy: Recent Trends in Job Loss, Labor Force Participation, and Wages
by Heidi Hartmann, Vicky Lovell and Misha Werschkul (September 2004)

In the months since the official end of the recession in November 2001, women’s employment has returned to pre-recession levels, but the lack of job growth in this period means millions of jobs for women are missing. At the same time, the long-term increase in women’s labor force participation has stalled, and the gender wage gap has increased.

#B245, 6 pages

Florida’s Unemployment Insurance System: Barriers to Program Adequacy for Women, Low-Wage and Part-Time Workers, and Workers of Color, Executive Summary
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. and Maurice Emsellem, Esq. (March 2004)

(Written collaboratively by Vicky Lovell, PhD, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and Maurice Emsellem, Esq., National Employment Law Project) The Florida unemployment insurance (UI) system is not meeting its basic goal of providing a modest measure of income support to temporarily unemployed workers. This is due in significant part to the UI system’s failure to keep pace with fundamental changes in the labor market, including the growth of low-wage and parttime work and the vastly expanding role of women in the labor market. This situation exists despite the significant reserves in Florida’s UI trust fund, even during the current economic downturn, and record-level UI tax cuts.

#C356, 2 pages

40-hour Work Proposal Significantly Raises Mothers’ Employment Standard
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (May 2003)

#D460, Research-in-Brief, 8 pages
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The Georgia Unemployment Insurance System: Overcoming Barrieres for Low-Wage, Part-Time, and Women Workers
by Maurice Emsellem, Vicky Lovell (December 2002)

This report uses national and state survey data to analyze the low coverage rate of the Georgia UI system for all workers in Georgia, but especially for low-wage, part-time, and women workers. Also examines tax rates and Georgia's trust fund balances. Co-published by the National Employment Law Project and IWPR.


Job Training and Education Fight Poverty
by M. K. Tally (March 2002)

The current federal welfare law limits the availability of education and training programs. The reauthorization of the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Block Grant offers an opportunity to make job training and education a central focus of welfare. This Fact Sheet is a synthesis of the data about benefits of these programs and makes recommendations on incorporating them into the current law.

Preview not available

Today's Women Workers: Shut Out of Yesterday's Unemployment Insurance System
by IWPR (May 2001)

A look at the unequal distribution of unemployment insurance and flaws in the system that prevent women from receiving earned benefits.


Today’s Women Workers: Shut Out of Yesterday’s Unemployment Insurance System
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D., and Catherine Hill, Ph.D. (April 2001)

This Fact Sheet discusses two aspects of the UI system that prevent many women from receiving the UI benefits they have earned: (1) monetary eligibility criteria, and (2) the exclusion of part-time workers. It also reviews other barriers to UI receipt and policy changes that would extend support of this fundamental employment-based program to more working women.


Unemployment Insurance and Welfare Reform: Fair Access to Economic Supports for Low-Income Working Women
by Annisah Um'rani, Vicky Lovell (December 2000)

Discusses how unequal access to unemployment insurance (UI)specifically affects welfare recipients. Emphasizesthe vital role of UI in preventing excessive hardship among welfare recipients due to unstable jobs.

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