FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Current Unemployment Rates for Black Men and Women Comparable to Unemployment Rates for White Men and Women at the Bottom of the Recession
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the January employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) finds that in December women gained 87,000 jobs and men gained 69,000 jobs for a total of 156,000 jobs added in December, giving women 56 percent of job growth. In 2016, women’s job growth has exceeded men’s for three quarters, but in the fourth quarter men’s growth was higher. In the fourth quarter of 2016 (October through December), men gained 63 percent (311,000 jobs) and women gained 37 percent (184,000 jobs) of all jobs added (495,000 jobs) in quarter four. Women gained 77 percent of all jobs in quarter one (January through March), 84 percent of all jobs in quarter two (April through June), and 62 percent of all jobs in quarter 3. The overall unemployment rate increased slightly from 4.6 in November to 4.7 percent in December, reflecting more people entering the labor market to look for jobs.
In the fourth quarter of 2016, women’s job gains were strongest in Educational and Health Services (100,000 jobs added), Leisure and Hospitality (50,000 jobs), and Professional and Business Services (39,000 jobs) industries. Over the same time period, men’s job gains were strongest in Professional and Business Services (83,000 jobs added), Educational and Health Services (63,000 jobs added), and Retail Trade (49,000 jobs added) industries.
Over the last year, from December 2015 to December 2016, women’s employment growth was strongest in Educational and Health Services (451,000 jobs gained by women), Professional and Business Services (286,000 jobs gained), and Leisure and Hospitality (194,000 jobs gained) industries (Figure 1). During the same period, men’s employment growth was strongest in Professional and Business Services (236,000 jobs gained by men), Educational and Health Services (142,000 jobs gained), and Retail Trade (136,000 jobs gained) industries. The greatest declines in employment for both women and men, was in the same industry, Mining and Logging (72,000 jobs lost by men and 8,000 jobs lost by women). Men also lost jobs in Durable Goods Manufacturing (59,000 jobs lost by men and 6,000 jobs gained by women), Information (2,000 jobs lost by men), and Other Services (2,000 jobs lost by men and 59,000 jobs gained by women). Women also experienced declines in employment in Utilities (4,000 jobs lost).
The overall labor force participation rate rose from 62.6 percent in November to 62.7 percent in December. In November and December women 16 and older had a labor force participation rate of 56.7 percent and men 16 and older had a labor force participation rate of 69.0 percent.
According to the household survey data reported by the BLS, unemployment among men 16 and older (4.8 percent) was higher than unemployment among women 16 and older (4.6 percent). Among workers aged 20 and older, unemployment is substantially higher among black women (6.8 percent) and men (7.6 percent) compared with white women and men (3.8 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively). Hispanic women’s unemployment (5.9 percent) and Hispanic men’s unemployment (4.9 percent) is also higher than white women’s and men’s unemployment. Overall, the unemployment rate for the Hispanic population increased from 5.7 percent in November to 5.9 percent in December; Hispanic women’s unemployment rate increased from 5.1 percent in November to 5.9 percent in December and Hispanic men’s unemployment decreased from 5.2 percent in November to 4.9 percent in December. Unemployment among the Asian population dropped slightly to 2.6 percent (a decrease from 3.0 percent in November). For single mothers (female heads of households), the unemployment rate decreased to 5.8 percent in December from 6.2 percent in November. The unemployment rate for single mothers is not seasonally adjusted and can fluctuate due to small sample sizes in the household survey.
Figure 2 shows the annual average unemployment rates for men and women aged 16 and older by race and ethnicity at the start of the recession, at the end of the recession, and for 2016. Black and Hispanic women and men have higher unemployment rates than White women and men in each period. Unemployment rates remain higher in 2016 than in 2007 for most groups. Only Black men have an unemployment rate in 2016 comparable to 2007, but the unemployment rate in 2016 remains more than twice as high for Black men (9.1 percent) compared to White men (4.4 percent). After seven years of recovery, Black men’s unemployment rate is comparable to White men’s unemployment rate (9.4 percent) at the official business cycle trough. Similarly, Black women’s unemployment rate in 2016 (7.8 percent) is comparable to the unemployment for White women (7.3 percent) at the low point in the current business cycle.
The number of unemployed workers, 7.5 million, increased slightly in December, while the number of long-term unemployed workers (those unemployed for 27 weeks or more) remained about 1.8 million (decreasing 0.6 percentage points from 24.8 percent in November to 24.2 percent of unemployment in December). The number of involuntary part-time workers—those reporting that they work part-time due to unfavorable business conditions or inability to find full-time work—was 5.6 million in December compared with 5.7 million in November.