According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the November employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women have surpassed their prior employment peak reached in March 2008. Whereas women have regained all the jobs they lost in the recession, men have so far regained only 73 percent of the jobs they lost. Despite gains, neither men nor women have regained their pre-recession labor force participation rate, with women’s labor force participation rate peaking in 2000. If the number of jobs had grown as fast as the working age population since the start of the recession, women would hold 3.8 million more jobs in October 2013 and men would hold an additional 5.5 million.
Of the 204,000 total jobs added to nonfarm payrolls in October, women gained 90,000 of those jobs (44 percent) while men gained 114,000 jobs (56 percent). IWPR analysis of the BLS payroll data shows that women’s employment growth in October was strongest in Leisure and Hospitality (32,000 jobs added for women), Retail Trade (27,600 jobs), and Professional and Business Services (24,000 jobs).
“October’s employment gains are worth celebrating, but job growth for both men and women are not at the level we should expect four years into the economic recovery,” said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann.
The October data builds on IWPR’s analysis of trends that emerged in the first four years of the recovery, notably the strong growth in industries—such as Education and Health Services—with high concentrations of female workers, and the significant impact of the contraction in government jobs on job growth for both men and women. If government spending were not contracting, nearly 540,000 more people would likely be employed today.
“While our aging population contributes to a long-term decline in labor force participation rates, strong family-friendly public policies could help raise the labor force participation of young adults raising children and others with caregiving responsibilities,” Dr. Hartmann said. “We need more and better jobs to employ recent graduates entering the labor market, as well as those discouraged workers who will start to look for jobs again as the recovery proceeds.”
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