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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Women's Employment and Unemployment Under Obama (Updated for September 2012)

What is happening with women in the labor force since Obama took office?  

Note:  Updated with numbers from September on October 16th. 

Are there more or fewer employed?  Is the unemployment rate for women higher or lower?  More or fewer women unemployed under Obama? 

Where are women doing well in the labor market and where are they doing poorly?

Here's a quick summary:

Women were spared in the early months of the recession.  When Obama took office, a year after job loss had started, women still had an unemployment rate significantly below that of men.  (Women's unemployment rate in January 2009 was 7.0%; the unemployment rate of men was already 8.6%.)  This was because the first casualties of the recession were people employed in construction sectors, which is primarily a male employment field. 

The private sector has recovered all jobs that were lost during the first months of Obama's administration, but, for the first time in a modern recession, government jobs have not been able to contribute to the recovery.  This is particularly true in the state and local government levels, as the numbers at the bottom of the page show.  

The chart below (from Ezra Klein at the Washington Post Wonk blog) shows the difference in government employment in the four most recent recessions.  That green line that keeps going down?  That's government employment in this latest slowdown.. now.  (The peak in that green line represents the hiring and laying off of 2010 Census workers.)
From the Washington Post Wonk Blog by Ezra Klein

So... .What's the point? 

We now have more women holding private sector jobs than we did in January 2009, but we have a deficit of 450,000 jobs at the various government levels.  There is no deficit at the federal government level, and only a minor deficit at the state government level.  However, there is a deficit of 450,000 jobs at the local government level, including a 350,000 jobs deficit in local government (education).  Teachers.

Update October 16:   There are 144,000 more women employed in the private sector now, as of September 2012, than in January 2009.  The deficit of women in government jobs now has declined to 427,000.  Most of that jobs deficit for women is the result of the decline in the number of teachers on the local government level.  The unemployment rate for women has fallen quickly over the summer and is lower than the unemployment rate for the country as a whole; however, at 7.5% it still is higher than it was in January 2009.   

To summarize:   Right now, women are struggling to recover jobs more than men.  The biggest reason for this are the cutbacks at local education levels, meaning we have fewer teachers and support personnel in public education.  These positions are overwhelmingly held by women.

The President's Jobs Bill of 2011, which was introduced last year and has not gone anywhere, would have put up to 280,000 teachers, most of them women,  back to work.  These people would be buying food, paying bills, and perhaps buying larger consumer items, buying cars, and taking vacations by this time.  But no, the President's Jobs Bill, which was written to be revenue neutral (paid for) was not acted on by the Republican Congress.

And then the Republicans try to tell the American public that the reason we have fewer women working than we did in January 2009 is the fault of the President and the Democrats.

I hope that most people reading this are not that gullible.    

Here are the numbers
(* denotes an increase over the number in January 2009):      

Women employed:  
  • January 2009 (when Obama took office)--  66,969,000
  • February 2009 (Obama's first full month in office)--  66,916,000
  • Trough of recession (June 2011)--  65,316,000
  • July 2012-- 66,754,000
  • September 2012-- 67,222,000 *
  • 306,000 MORE women employed than in February 2009.
  • 1,906,000 MORE women employed since trough of recession (June 2011).
Women unemployed:
  • January 2009--  5,005,000
  • February 2009 (Obama's first full month in office)--  5,294,000
  • Trough of recession (April 2010)--  6,332,000  
  • July 2012--  5,865,000
  • September 2012--  5,456,000 
  • 162,000 MORE women unemployed than in February 2009.
  • 876,000 FEWER women unemployed since trough of recession (April 2010). 
The unemployment rate of women:
  • January 2009--   7.0% 
  • February 2009-- 7.3%
  • Trough of recession (November 2010)-- 9.0%
  • July 2012--  8.1%
  • September 2012--  7.5% 
  • .2% INCREASE in unemployment rate since February 2009.
  • 1.5% DECREASE in unemployment rate since trough of recession. 

Women in the various employment sectors:

Women's jobs in total:
  • January 2009--  66,122,000
  • July 2012--  65,721,000
  • September 2012--  65,839,000
Women in private-sector jobs:
  • January 2009--  53,169,000
  • July 2012--  53,215,000
  • September--  53,313,000 *
Women in government sector jobs in (all levels):
  • January 2009--  12,953,000
  • July 2012--  12,506,000
  • September 2012--  12,526,000 
Women in federal government jobs:
  • January 2009--  1,240,000
  • July 2012-- 1,246,000 
  • September 2012-- 1,244,000 *
Women in State government jobs (all groups):
  • January 2009--  2,663,000
  • July 2012-- 2,651,000
  • September 2012-- 2,639,000
Women in state government jobs (education)--seasonally unadjusted:
  • January 2009-- 1,230,000
  • July 2012--  1,197,000
  • September 2012-- 1,138,900
Women in local government jobs (all groups):
  • January 2009-- 9,050,000
  • July 2012--  8,606,000
  • September 2012-- 8,640,000
Women in local government jobs (education)-- seasonally unadjusted: 
  • January 2009-- 6,064,000
  • July 2012--       5,717,000
  • September 2012--  4,898,700

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