Women Continue To Lose Jobs During 'Recovery'

women losing jobsEconomists announced the end of the recession two years ago, and there now seem to be glimmers of a recovery. The overall unemployment rate dropped this past month to 9 percent. But things are only getting worse for women. While it may have been a "mancession," it truly is, as the media has dubbed it, a "He-covery."

The U.S. lost 7.5 million jobs in the recession, and men took 70 percent of the hit. But during the "recovery," men have gained 1.1 million jobs, and women have lost 117,000, according to a National Women's Law Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Between June 2009 and October 2011, the unemployment rate actually increased from 7.7 percent to 8 percent for women, 11.7 percent to 12.6 percent for black women, and 11.7 percent to 12.3 percent for single mothers. The unemployment rate for men is higher, but has been falling at a slow and steady clip. The two numbers now look like they may converge.

The Institute for Women's Policy Research/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security paints a more granular picture of women's "recovery"-era suffering. Through interviews with 2,746 adults, the researchers found that between the end of 2009 and the end of 2010 a quarter of the women in this country, and 38 percent of single mothers, struggled to pay for food, compared to 14 percent of men.

Paying rent was at some point a problem for 75 percent of women and 49 percent of men, the study said. Seventy-two percent of women and 80 percent of mothers had to cut back on living expenses in the previous year, compared to 57 percent of men.

The late-middle-age, male, blue collar worker may be the face of unemployment in the sluggish economy, but as a recovery continues that may change.

The loss of public sector jobs is the main driver behind women's growing unemployment, according to the National Women's Law Center. The private sector is growing, but state and local governments have cut more than half a million jobs since March 2010. At the end of the recession, 57.2 percent of the public sector workforce was female, and women have represented 63.8 percent of the public sector layoffs since then.

For example, 300,000 teachers have lost their jobs since 2008, according to Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. Around three-quarters of teachers are women.

These numbers are all the more worrying, because women, and particularly black women and single mothers, are a more economically vulnerable group than men. Women still earn 19 percent less than a man for the same job, according to a 2010 report by the Center for American Progress. An unmarried woman earns just 56 cents to the married man's dollar.

In the 10 lowest-paid occupations, almost two-thirds of workers are women, according to a Institute for Women's Policy Research report published in April. In the highest paid 10 occupations, close to two-thirds of the workers are men.

Slashing public sector jobs and trimming their paychecks has become a political rallying point on the right. And while such cost-saving measures may reduce the nation's budget deficit, they risk plunging more women into joblessness and poverty -- a growing problem that is concealed by our standard unemployment figures.

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