The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the October employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) establishment survey finds that in September women lost 41,000 jobs and men gained just 8,000 jobs for a total of 33,000 jobs lost in September. In the last six months of 2017 (April-October), men gained 58 percent (484,000 jobs) and women gained 42 percent (352,000 jobs) of all jobs added (836,000 jobs). According to the household survey, the overall unemployment rate decreased from 4.4 percent in August to 4.2 percent in September, perhaps because those who are without jobs must be available and looking for work to be counted.
In September, women gained jobs in Educational and Health Services (19,000 jobs added for women) and Professional and Business Services (8,000 jobs added for), but lost jobs in Leisure and Hospitality (56,000 jobs lost for women), Financial Activities (13,000 jobs lost for women), Retail Trade (10,900 jobs lost for women), and Information (9,000 jobs lost for women). Men gained jobs in Financial Activities (23,000 jobs added for men), Transportation and Warehousing (16,300 jobs added for men), Retail Trade (8,000 jobs added for men), and Educational and Health Services (8,000 jobs added for men), but lost jobs in in Leisure and Hospitality (55,000 jobs lost for men) and Other Services (7,000 jobs lost for men). In a noteworthy change, women gained more jobs than men in the construction industry (6,000 jobs added for women and only 2,000 jobs added for men), while men gained more jobs in government (7,000 jobs added for men and no jobs added for women).
Figure 2 shows that in the previous six months of 2017 (March-September), women’s job gains were strongest in Educational and Health Services (175,000 jobs added for women), Professional and Business Services (102,000 jobs added for women, yet men’s were stronger at 137,000 jobs added), and Leisure and Hospitality (34,000 jobs added for women). However, during this period women lost jobs in Retail Trade (90,000 jobs lost for women, whereas men gained 50,000 jobs) and Information (22,000 jobs lost for women, only 11,000 lost for men). Over the same time period, men’s job gains were strongest in Professional and Business Services (137,000 jobs), Educational and Health Services (70,000 jobs added for men, though women gained 2.5 times more in this area), and Financial Activities (59,000 jobs added for men, about 5 times more than women gained). Men’s job losses were largest in Information (11,000 jobs) and Nondurable Goods Manufacturing (6,000 jobs lost for men where women gained 18,000 jobs).
According to the household survey data reported by the BLS, the overall labor force participation rate (which is the sum of the employed and unemployed divided by the total population aged 16 and older) increased to 63.1 percent in September from 62.9 percent in August. In September, women 16 and older had a labor force participation rate of 57.3 percent and men 16 and older had a labor force participation rate of 69.2 percent. Unemployment among women aged 16 and older was 4.2 percent in September compared to 4.3 percent among men aged 16 and older.
Among workers aged 20 and older, unemployment is substantially higher among Black women (6.0 percent; Figure 3) and men (6.7 percent) compared with White women and men (3.5 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively). Hispanic women’s unemployment (5.4 percent) is also higher than White women’s unemployment, but Hispanic men’s unemployment (4.0 percent) is only slightly higher than White men’s unemployment. In the previous six months unemployment has declined for Black women (6.6 percent in March to 6.0 percent in September), Black men (8.2 percent in March to 6.7 percent in September), and Hispanic men (4.5 percent in March to 4.0 percent in September). However, unemployment has increased from 4.7 percent in March to 5.4 percent in September for Hispanic women. Unemployment has remained lowest and relatively steady in the last six months for White women and men.
For single mothers (female heads of households), the unemployment rate decreased to 6.5 percent in September from 7.2 percent in August. The unemployment rate for single mothers is not seasonally adjusted and can fluctuate due to small sample sizes in the household survey.
The number of unemployed workers, 6.8 million, decreased in September. The number of long-term unemployed workers (those unemployed for 27 weeks or more) remained steady at 1.7 million (increasing 0.8 percentage points from 24.7 percent in August to 25.5 percent of unemployment in September). 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 5.1 million in September compared with 5.3 million in August.