The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the March employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) finds that women gained 167,000 jobs and men gained 75,000 for a total of 242,000 jobs added in February, giving women 69 percent of job growth. February is the 72nd month of uninterrupted job growth in the private sector. The overall unemployment rate remained steady at 4.9 percent between January and February.
In February, women’s employment growth was strong in Educational and Health Services (62,000 jobs gained by women), Leisure and Hospitality Services (36,000 jobs gained by women), Retail Trade (19,500 jobs gained by women), and Government (16,000 jobs gained by women), and Professional and Business Services (11,000 jobs gained by women). Men’s employment growth was strong in Retail Trade (35,400 jobs gained by men), Educational and Health Services (24,000 jobs gained by men), Construction (16,000 jobs gained by men), Leisure and Hospitality Services (12,000 jobs gained by men), and Professional and Business Services (12,000 jobs gained by men). In contrast, men’s employment declined in Mining and Logging (17,000 jobs lost by men), Durable Goods Manufacturing (11,000 jobs lost by men), and Transportation and Warehousing (8,800 jobs lost by men).
In the last year, from February 2015 to February 2016, of the 2.7 million jobs added to payrolls, more than half were filled by women (57 percent or 1,529,00 jobs) and slightly less than half were filled by men (43 percent or 1,143,000 jobs). Between February 2015 and February 2016 women’s job gains were strongest in Education and Health Services (556,000 jobs added for women), Professional and Business Services (322,000 jobs added for women), Leisure and Hospitality (207,000 jobs added for women), and Retail Trade (187,000 jobs added for women). Men’s job gains were strongest in Professional and Business Services (288,000 jobs added for men), Leisure and Hospitality (239,000 jobs added for men), and Construction (230,000 jobs added for men). In contrast, men lost 127,000 jobs in Mining and Logging and 37,000 jobs in Durable Goods Manufacturing during the past year.
For an analysis of how changes in unemployment are affecting men and women of different racial and ethnic groups, Figure 2 presents data from the household survey from October 2009, the month that the total unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent, through today, with the total unemployment rate at 4.9 percent (February 2016, civilian labor force aged 16 and older). As Figure 2 shows, for workers aged 20 and older, black and Hispanic women and men have had higher unemployment rates than their white counterparts, often dramatically higher, for six years. Asian American women and men have generally fared similarly to whites or slightly better. Also, in October 2009, men’s unemployment rates were higher than women’s for every major race and ethnic group. Today, women’s unemployment rates are more similar to men’s, suggesting different progress out of the recession for men and women.
In fact, as the total columns show, unemployment rates for women fell 44 percent [(8.0-4.5)/8.0], while for men the drop is sharper at 57 percent [(10.4-4.5)/10.4] since October 2009. For nearly all race and ethnic groups, men’s unemployment rates have also declined by more than half, while women’s unemployment rates have declined, but generally not by half. For both women and men, notably, Black workers have seen the smallest drops in unemployment rates, by 37 percent for women and 50 percent for men. Among men, whites’ and Hispanics’ rates dropped the most (59 and 62 percent respectively). The racial and ethnic change was similar among women; white women’s unemployment rate dropped by 47 percent and Hispanic women’s by 50 percent, with black women’s unemployment rate falling the least (37 percent).
The overall labor force participation rate increased from 62.7 percent in January to 62.9 percent in February. Women’s labor force participation rate remained unchanged in February at 56.8, and remains 2.7 percentage points lower than the 59.5 percent rate in December 2007, before the start of the Great Recession. Men’s labor force participation rate increased from 69.1 percent in January to 69.4 percent in February, 4.4 percentage points lower than the 73.8 percent rate in December 2007.
As of February, 7.8 million workers remained unemployed and, of these, 2.2 million (27.7 percent) had been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, usually referred to as the long-term unemployed. This share has declined by 3.1 percentage points in the past year, from 30.8 percent in February 2015. Involuntary part-time workers numbered 6 million workers in February; they reported working part-time for reasons such as slack work or unfavorable business conditions, inability to find full-time work, or seasonal declines in demand. Compared to the same time last year, 642,000 fewer workers reported involuntary part-time work, a substantial decline of 10 percent from 6.6 million.