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The Good and Bad New About May’s Female Employment Figures


May’s national jobless rate released this week continue the slight, steady gains in employment. The economy added 175,000 jobs and the overall rate climbed up a tad to 7.6 percent. Nearly half those gains were by women. But don’t celebrate just yet.

The National Women’s Law Center says those gains aren’t enough to jumpstart recovery for millions of unemployed Americans, let alone the newly minted additions to the labor force graduating this month.

Still, it’s heartening to see the female employment rate lower than the national average – at 6.5 percent in May, the lowest since January 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here are some more by-the-numbers highlights from the law center’s analysis of the latest unemployment data:

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  • The latest rate of jobs added is about on par with the average monthly gain over the past half year. Still, at that speed, it will be 2022 before we close the jobs gap (the number of jobs the nation needs to reach pre-recessionary levels), according to the Hamilton Project. Nine years is a pretty long wait.

  • The female jobless rate dropped in May, as it did for black women and single moms. But Hispanic women saw unemployment rise a little. Combined, these demographics continue to see jobless rates way higher than at the outset of the Great Recession at the end of 2007.

  • Sadly, the bulk of May’s job growth (91,400 new jobs) centered on a only few low-wage sectors: Retail (27,700-plus), temp work (25,600-plus) and hospitality (38,100-plus).

Tell Us What You Think

What do you think about the latest women’s unemployment figures? Share your story on our Twitter page or in the comments section below.

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(Photo Credit: Triscele/Flickr)

Jennifer Wadsworth
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