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An Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the March employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth improved in February with 227,000 jobs added to nonfarm payrolls. In February women gained 86,000 jobs (almost 40 percent, above their share for the past year) and men gained 141,000. The gap between women’s and men’s employment in February is 1.9 million. IWPR released a new Quick Figures with two new graphics.
The unemployment rates remained largely steady from January to February declining for women aged 16 and older (to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent) and unchanged for men (8.3 percent). Women’s employment growth was aided by strong growth in health care (49,000 jobs added overall) and food service and drinking places (40,800 jobs added overall).
In the last year, from February 2011 to February 2012, of the 2.1 million jobs added to payrolls, 672,000 or 31% were filled by women and 1,462,000 or 69 percent were filled by men. Since October of 2009 when men’s and women’s total jobs numbers were virtually equal, women have gained 648,000 jobs, whereas men have gained 2,544,000.
Since June 2009 when the recession officially ended, men have gained 88 percent (1.9 million) while women have gained only 273,000 (12 percent) of the jobs added to payrolls – primarily because jobs growth for women lagged men’s by nearly a year.
Women have regained nearly one out of three (855,000 or 31.4 percent) of the total jobs they lost in the recession (2.7 million from December 2007 to the trough for women’s employment in September 2010, which occurred more than one year after the recession officially ended). The picture looks somewhat better for men: men have gained 43.4 percent (2.6 million) of the jobs they lost since December 2007 (6.0 million).
In the first quarter of 2009, when President Obama began his term, employment was still falling steeply. With the passage of the President’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009, job losses abated and turned to job growth in early 2010. In 2011 and 2012 the gains in jobs added are being shared by women and men.
There is still a jobs deficit relative to before the recession, which was the most severe since the 1930s. At the pace of job gains in February (227,000), it would take until late 2016 just to employ those currently looking for work without considering additional workers entering the labor force. As of February 12.8 million workers remain unemployed.