Women Want Jobs, But Who Wants To Create Jobs For Them?


The May jobs report has hit the media, and the news is fairly dire. Not only did the the labor market create only about half of the jobs expected, but previous months’ so-so reports were also bumped down after readjustments.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been quick to jump on the report, saying via written statement,

“Today’s weak jobs report is devastating news for American workers and American families…. It is now clear to everyone that President Obama’s policies have failed to achieve their goals and that the Obama economy is crushing America’s middle class.”

Meanwhile, Democrats have been quick to return volley, blaming the numbers on Republican stonewalling in Congress. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stated,

“America’s workers and small businesses demand certainty; yet Republicans are risking another deep recession by threatening to hold the full faith and credit of the United States of America hostage and refusing to bring to the floor a vote on the middle-income tax cuts.”

The overall picture may be bleak, and unemployment may be rising again, but when it comes to women workers, things are actually much better than the general report shows.

According to an analysis from the National Women’s Law Center, women have actually gained jobs during May rather than lost them. 

Analysis by the National Women’s Law Center of jobs data for May 2012 released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in a month in which the economy added just 69,000 net jobs, women gained 95,000 jobs while men lost 26,000 jobs.  May was the second largest monthly job gain for women in the last twelve months.  However, during the recovery overall, women have gained only 22.5 percent of the 2.5 million net jobs added. 

 “Although women continued to make job gains last month, the slowdown in overall job growth since the beginning of this year is troubling news for families and the economy,” said Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center.  “Today’s data reinforce the need for policy makers to invest in job creation and boost family income to stimulate demand.”

So where were these job gains that benefitted women?  In the social services sector, reports Anna North at Buzz Feed.

Construction shed jobs; manufacturing, also male-dominated, made only nominal gains. The real gains came in private-sector service jobs, which tend to go to women. Healthcare and social assistance, [Wharton School economist Betsey] Stevenson noted, saw the biggest growth, with companies hiring home health aides and childcare workers.

Stevenson also points out that women’s job losses have slown in the government sector, which may be good news but also may not be a continuing trend. Bryce Covert discusses at The Nation that Romney’s latest plan to get Americans back to work is to have public sector employees give up their jobs so private sector employees can have them.

He told a group of supporters in Colorado on Tuesday that government employees should give up their jobs for those who work in the private sector. In talking about President Obama’s stimulus package, he said:

That stimulus he put in place, it didn’t help private sector jobs, it helped preserve government jobs, and the one place we should have cut back was on government jobs. We have a 145,000 more government workers under this president. Let’s send them home and put you back to work!

Whether or not those are accurate numbers, Romney wants to amplify the misery of more than a half million unemployed public workers by putting another 145,000 out of work.

It’s an idea that, if implemented, would cause women to suffer even further in the labor market, as they represent a larger ratio of workers in that sector.

As a result of the jobs announcement, the Dow Jones average dropped 200 points, a loss that is likely to come up repeatedly as the House begins its discussion of extending or eliminating the Bush-era tax breaks for the richest Americans. That discussion, as well as the fight over whether or not to raise student loan rates and if not, how to pay to keep them at their current level, are both expected to dominate Congress next week.

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