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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

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AND WELFARE REFORM: Fair Access to Economic Supports for Low-Income Working Women
by Annisah Um’rani, Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (November 2000)

#A125, Research-in-Brief, 8 pages

The Georgia Unemployment Insurance System: Overcoming Barriers For Low-Wage, Part-Time & Women Workers
by Maurice Emsellem, Esq., Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (November 2000)


Unemployment Insurance Reform for the New Workforce
by Annisah Um’rani, Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (March 2000)

Proceedings of the Strategy Forum for Improving Unemployment Insurance Policies to Benefit Women, Low-Wage and Contingent Workers, sponsored by IWPR and the National Employment Law Project.

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Women and Unemployment Insurance
by IWPR (November 1999)

Explains how unemployment insurance (UI) works and discusses how women workers are often excluded from eligibility. Nationally only 23 percent of unemployed women receive UI.

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The Texas Unemployment Insurance System
by Maurice Emsellem, Katherine Allen, Lois Shaw (February 1999)

Examines the problem of access to the Texas Unemployment Insurance program by documenting inequitable treatment of low-wage, part-time, women, and minority workers. Co-published by the National Employment Law Project and IWPR.

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Demographic and Economic Trends: Implications for Family Life and Public Policy
by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D (December 1998)

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Unemployment Insurance: Barriers to Access for Women and Part-time Workers
by Young-Hee Yoon, Roberta Spalter-Roth, and Marc Baldwin (June 1995)

This fact sheet is based on the report titled "Unemployment Insurance: Barriers to Access for Women and Part Time Workers."

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Supporting Work: The Relation Between Employment Opportunities and Financial and Other Support Programs
by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Beverly Burr (August 1993)

Testimony before the Working Group on Welfare Reform, Family Support and Independence. Describes employment patterns of single mothers with a history of AFDC receipt. Argues that to implement a time-limited welfare reform plan, eligibility and benefit levels for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Unemployment Insurance must be expanded.

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Improving Employment Opportunities for Women
by Heidi Hartmann, Roberta Spalter-Roth (February 1991)

Testimony on H.R. 1 Civil Rights Act of 1991, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor. Describes the importance of women's earnings for family survival, the continued existence of wage and job discrimination, and the effectiveness of civil rights and anti-discrimination policies. Argues that ensuring equal employment opportunities for all workers is needed to strengthen the economy.


How Much Will a Public Service Employment Program Reduce Welfare Costs?
by (January 1991)

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Women's Work, Family Diversity, and Employment Instability: Public Policy Responses to New Realities
by Heidi Hartmann (January 1991)

Testimony before the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC. Argues that public policy assumes a predominantly white male workforce, traditional families, and stable employment patterns. Offers policy suggestions to more accurately reflect the increasing diversity in the labor force, family structure, and instability in employment and to better secure the nation's long term economic health.

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Women's Work, Economic Trends, and Policy Issues
by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D (May 1988)

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