Washington, DC

—According to an

Institute for Women’s Policy Research



of the May employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women gained 166,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls in April, while men gained 122,000 for an increase of 288,000 total jobs in April. In April, women hold more jobs on payrolls (68.3 million) than at their previous employment peak in March 2008 (67.6 million), indicating they have more than recovered all the jobs they lost in the downturn, while men have regained 86 percent (5.2 million) of the 6 million jobs they lost.

“We are slowly but surely inching our way back to pre-recession job levels,” said economist and IWPR President Heidi Hartmann. “This is great news for women, men, and the families who rely on them.”

In April,

women’s employment growth

was strongest in Professional and Business Services (42,000 jobs gained by women), Education and Health Services (33,000 jobs), Leisure and Hospitality (27,000 jobs), and Retail Trade (24,000 jobs). In the last year, from April 2013 to April 2014, these (largely female-dominated) industries bolstered both men’s and women’s job gains. In this time period, of the 2.4 million jobs added to payrolls, 49 percent were filled by women (1,159,000 jobs) and 51 percent were filled by men (1,207,000 jobs).

According to the household survey data reported by the BLS, the

unemployment rate

for women aged 16 and older decreased to 6.1 percent in April from 6.6 percent in March. The unemployment rate for men aged 16 and older decreased from 6.8 percent in March to 6.4 percent in April. Among single mothers (female heads of households), the unemployment rate declined to 8.5 percent in April from 9.0 percent in March. Among workers aged 20 and older, compared with white women and men (4.7 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively), unemployment rates differ significantly by race and ethnicity: unemployment is higher among black women and men (10.4 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively) and Hispanic women and men (6.6 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively).

The overall labor force participation rate decreased to 62.8 percent in April from 63.2 percent in March. Women’s labor force participation rate decreased from 57.2 percent in March to 56.9 percent in April, or 2.5 percentage points lower than the 59.4 percent rate in December 2007. Men’s labor force participation rate was 69.1 percent in April, or 4 percentage points lower than the 73.1 percent rate in December 2007.

“The U.S. population is aging, so we expect some natural decline in the labor force participation rate,” Dr. Hartmann said. “But we must ensure that we are creating good jobs for younger workers to ensure a strong economy for future generations.”

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)

is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.