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More Than 300,000 Women Drop Out of Labor Force as Sluggish Growth Continues

Long average length of unemployment indicatesunemployment insurance extension is critical.
 
Washington, DC— Women gained over half (65,000) of the 120,000 jobs gained this month, as reported in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released Friday (which included revisions for September and October as well as new numbers for November). Analysis of the new data by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) shows that the wide job gap between men and women remains 1.5 million jobs.
The BLS also reported that the unemployment rate for women aged 16 years and older fell two-tenths of one percentage point, from 8.5 percent to 8.3 percent, while men's unemployment rate fell six-tenths of one percentage point, from 9.5 percent to 8.9 percent for men in the same age range. For women who maintain families without the support of a spouse, the unemployment rate remains much higher at 12.4 percent.
BLS’ estimate of the size of the female labor force age 16 and older showed a marked decline (339,000) in the number of women employed or unemployed and looking for work. The female labor force participation rate fell from 58.2 percent in October to 57.9 percent in November, the lowest female labor force participation rate since September 1993. The male labor force grew slightly (23,000) and men’s labor force participation rate remained steady at 70.5 percent.
In the last year, from November 2010 to November 2011, of the 1.6 million jobs added to payrolls, 474,000 or 30 percent were filled by women and 1,126,000 or 70 percent were filled by men. Since October of 2009 when men’s and women’s total jobs numbers were virtually equal, women have gained 329,000 jobs, whereas men have gained 1,874,000. Women have regained only one out of five (536,000 or 19.7 percent) of the total jobs they lost as a result of 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). Men have gained almost one out of three (1.95 million or 32.3 percent) of the jobs they lost since December 2007 (6.0 million).
"November’s job growth remained weak for both women and men," said Dr. Heidi Hartmann, President of IWPR and a labor economist. "But it is welcome news that the jobs numbers are rising in both the new data for November and the revised data for October and September and the unemployment rate fell for both men and women in November. The decline in the number of women in the labor force is alarming, but we will watch to see if this is just a temporary aberration."
For those unemployed, the average length of unemployment is 40.9 weeks. “Unless Congress acts soon, more than one million unemployed workers will lose their benefits in January 2012,” said Jeff Hayes, a senior research associate at IWPR.
 
About the Institute for Women's Policy Research
IWPR conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women's studies and public policy programs at The George Washington University.

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