According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)
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).
In May, women’s employment growth was strongest in Education and Health Services (43,000 jobs gained by women), Professional and Business Services (23,000 jobs gained by women), and Leisure and Hospitality (20,000 jobs gained by women).
In May, women hold more jobs on payrolls (68.4 million) than at their previous employment peak in April 2008 (67.6 million), indicating they have more than recovered all the jobs they lost in the downturn. Men have regained 88 percent (5.4 million) of the jobs they lost between December 2007 (70.8 million) and the trough for men’s employment (64.7 million) in December 2009 (6 million jobs lost). The gap between women’s and men’s employment is 1.7 million jobs in May, substantially less than at the start of the recession (3.2 million jobs in December 2007).
In the last year, from May 2013 to May 2014, of the 2.4 million jobs added to payrolls, 47 percent were filled by women (1,128,000 jobs) and 53 percent were filled by men (1,251,000 jobs). In this time period, women’s job gains were strongest in Professional and Business Services (324,000 jobs added for women), Education and Health Services (267,000 jobs added for women), Leisure and Hospitality (204,000 jobs added for women), and Retail Trade (184,500 jobs added for women). In the same one year period, however, women lost 5,000 jobs in Financial Activities, 4,000 jobs in Information, and 3,100 jobs in Utilities.
According to the household survey data reported by the BLS, the unemployment rate for women aged 16 and older increased to 6.2 percent in May from 6.1 percent in April. The unemployment rate for men aged 16 and older remained steady at 6.4 percent in both April and May. Among workers aged 20 and older, unemployment is higher among black women and men (10.0 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively) and Hispanic women and men (7.5 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively) compared to white women and men (4.9 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively). Among single mothers (female heads of households), the unemployment rate declined to 8.4 percent in May from 8.5 percent in April, indicating continued difficulty for these women in finding jobs (this series is not seasonally adjusted and can fluctuate due to small sample sizes in the household survey).
The overall labor force participation rate remained steady at 62.8 percent in both April and May. Women’s labor force participation rate increased from 56.9 percent in April to 57.0 percent in May, or 2.4 percentage points lower than the 59.4 percent rate in December 2007. Men’s labor force participation rate was 69.1 percent in May, or 4 percentage points lower than the 73.1 percent rate in December 2007. In a report issued in February 2014, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that about half of the decline in total labor force participation is due to the aging of the U.S. population.
As of May, 9.8 million workers remain unemployed and, of these, 3.5 million (35 percent) have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, usually referred to as the long-term unemployed. As of May, a larger share of black (39 percent of both black women and men) and Asian (47 percent of Asian women and 39 percent of Asian men) unemployed workers have been out of work and looking for 27 weeks and longer, compared with both white (33 percent of women and 36 percent of men) and Hispanic (30 percent of women and 37 percent of men) unemployed workers.