Today’s release of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs data for May brought familiar news: 175,000 jobs were added to the economy and the overall unemployment rate held pretty steady, creeping up a smidge to 7.6 percent. Women gained almost half of last month’s jobs (82,000 jobs) and adult women’s unemployment rate fell to 6.5 percent in May – the lowest level since January 2009.
While these job gains are welcome, don’t pour the champagne just yet – these kinds of numbers aren’t enough to jumpstart the recovery for the millions of Americans who are unemployed – or the new workers graduating this month.
2022: As I mentioned above, 175,000 jobs added last month – that’s pretty close to the average monthly gain over the last six months. But, at this pace, it will take until 2022 to close the jobs gap, according to estimates by the Hamilton Project. They define the “jobs gap” as the number of jobs the U.S. needs to add to return to pre-recession employment levels when you account for people who are currently unemployed, as well as those who will join the economy as the population grows. So while 175,000 is pretty good, we’re going to need to add a lot more jobs each month to speed up the recovery – nine years is too long to wait for a full recovery.
Here’s a highlight for you in the release of last month’s jobs data: in April, adult women’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest point in more than four years. That’s right, the last time unemployment was this low was in the first months of 2009.
But hey there, hold your horses. Don’t get too excited yet!
So what else stands out in today’s jobs report? Here’s what caught my eye as we crunched the numbers for today’s NWLC analysis:
6.7 percent: This represents the good. Unemployment rates continue to fall, and women’s unemployment rate hit a four-year low last month at 6.7 percent. In April, adult men’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly, while the overall unemployment rate fell ever so slightly, also to a four-year low. Overall, we’re doing better, but we’re gaining jobs at a crushingly slow pace, especially compared to earlier recoveries.
Equal Pay Day provides a moment to take stock of our progress during the 50 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act: today more women are in the labor force, women are pursuing post-secondary education at higher rates, and the pay gap between men and women has narrowed by 18 cents.
In 1963, the typical woman working full time, year round made just 59 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart. The wage gap was 41 cents.
And where things stood in 2011 . . .
In another act from across the pond, Adele’s album 21topped charts around the world.
Touch-tones gave way to touch-screens. I personally joined the ranks of what many people now considered the norm: owning a smartphone. Other technology that probably sounded like sci-fi in the 1960s but was commonplace in 2011: iPads, Kindles, Roku, and so on.
In 2011, the typical woman working full time, year round made just 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart. The wage gap is 23 cents.
When you look at the way some things have changed, 1963 feels like ancient history. . Yet there wage gap is one vestige of our past that’s alive and well – five decades later.
Today’s release of March jobs data brought far less exciting news than February. The economy added only 88,000 jobs last month, less than 30% of which went to women and unemployment rates were little changed for adult women and men, hovering around 7 percent.
Here are the numbers that stood out to me as we crunched the numbers for today’s NWLC analysis:
25,000: That’s the number of jobs women gained in March and it’s less than 30 percent of the total jobs added last month. It’s a tiny number and nowhere near what is necessary for a real recovery. Since the recovery started in June 2009, women and men have each gained private sector jobs, but public sector losses continue to hold everyone back – particularly women.
12,000: That’s the number of manufacturing jobs that women lost last month, while men gained 9,000. Just a few weeks ago we published an analysis of how the manufacturing recovery has been nonexistent for women. In his State of the Union address, President Obama praised the manufacturing gains since January 2010, just three years prior. But here’s the full story: Since January 2010, the economy has gained over a half million manufacturing jobs — men have gained 557,000, while women have actually lost 36,000. This isn’t a recovery for women in “man”ufacturing.
This is also a big birthday year – something actually worth celebrating – the Equal Pay Act turns 50 in June! But on the eve of that happy occasion, here’s another downer: As reported in The Wage Gap by State for Women Overall, 50 years in, the wage gap is still going strong all across the U.S.