Women picking up the pace in economic recovery

January 6, 2012

However slowly, men have been the ones driving most of the economic recovery over the past two years. But that’s beginning to change, as women are starting to take back more and more of the jobs they lost during the recession.


Women and men have filled roughly the same number of jobs over the last three months. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Over the last year, women accounted for only 521,000 (32 percent) of the 1.6 million jobs created in the United States, while men accounted for more than 1.1 million (68 percent). Even with women catching up over the last quarter, the employment gender gap still stands at 1.5 million jobs.

The pattern stems from the fact that a disproportionate amount of state and local government workers are women, according to the institute. Those levels of government have been shedding jobs at a far faster rate than both their federal counterparts and companies in the private sector.

Men picked up 110,000 during the final month of the year after gaining 95,000 over the previous two months. Women picked up 89,000 after adding 117,000 in October and November. Since each gender’s employment numbers bottomed out in 2010, women have regained about one out of four of the total jobs they lost in the recession. Men have recovered more than one out of three.

Overall, job growth was moderate in December with 200,000 positions added to nonfarm payrolls, doubling the 100,000 added in November but still lagging growth levels prior to the collapse in 2008. The unemployment rate also fell to 8.5 percent, its lowest level in nearly three years.

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J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he runs the On Small Business blog.
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