National unemployment rates continue their all-too-slow trudge downward, hovering at 7.8% of the workforce for the past two months. While the media will often focus on this general number — one that doesn’t include those who have given up looking for work altogether — a study came out last week from the National Women’s Law Center with new insight into the relationship between gender and unemployment. For the first time in six years, the NWLC reports, unemployment among adult women (defined as 20+) is higher than that of adult men, rising by .3% between November and December 2012.
The latest stats show that unemployment rates rose among many groups of women, including single women, white women and African American women. Hispanic women, however, saw their unemployment rate fall from a staggering 10.3% in November to 9.4% in December. The New York Times’ Economix Blog explains the cause of this gender gap and its recent reversal:
“During the recession, men had borne the brunt of job losses, which were disproportionately in male-dominated industries like construction and manufacturing. Over the course of the recovery that began in mid-2009, however, these sectors have improved a little, while the female-dominated public sector has been shedding workers.”
With the near-guarantee in Washington of more spending cuts in the months to come, the public sector is unlikely to reverse this trend any time soon.