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Unemployment & the Economy

About Unemployment & the Economy

IWPR publishes occasional analyses of the impact of the business cycle on women’s employment outcomes. Between December 2007 and June 2009, the U.S. economy was in the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Because much of the slowdown has occurred in traditionally male fields such as manufacturing and construction—while a few traditionally female fields such as health and education have shown job growth or minimal job loss—many reports have focused on the job losses among men in the labor force. IWPR highlighted that:

    • Substantial job losses have also occurred among women in such sectors as retail, hospitality, and personal and business services. Women lost about 2 million jobs between December 2007 and June 2009 and unemployment was 8.4 percent of women aged 16 and over as of November 2010.
    • Once they lose their jobs, women and men spend a similar number of weeks unemployed; in December 2009, unemployed women and men had been out of work for an astounding 29 weeks, on average.
    • A smaller share of unemployed women collect unemployment insurance benefits compared with unemployed men. Between December 2007 and November 2009, 36.8 percent of unemployed women received unemployment benefits, on average, compared with 40.3 percent of unemployed men.

    Resources

    Women and Men in the Recovery: Where the Jobs Are ; Women’s Recovery Strengthens in Year Four | Briefing Paper

    Women's and Men's Employment and Unemployment in the Great Recession | Briefing Paper

    Are Women Now Half the Labor Force? The Truth about Women and Equal Participation in the Labor Force | Briefing Paper

    Visit our external resources page for more information on this topic.

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    Latest Reports from IWPR

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    Unemployment Insurance: Barriers to Access for Women and Part-time Workers
    by Young-Hee Yoon, Roberta Spalter-Roth, and Marc Baldwin (June 1995)

    This fact sheet is based on the report titled "Unemployment Insurance: Barriers to Access for Women and Part Time Workers."

     

    Welfare That Works: The Working Lives of AFDC Recipients
    by (March 1995)

    In the latest campaign to move recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) off the welfare rolls through time-limiting benefits and ending entitlements, little attention has been paid to what will work to increase the likelihood that AFDC recipients can find work and earn wages above the barest minimum. In Welfare that Works: The Working Lives of AFDC Recipients, IWPR answers the question of "what works" by examining the current survival strategies of AFDC recipients. IWPR's study focuses on the jobs many women who receive welfare already hold. The study analyzes the factors that increase the likelihood that single mothers receiving AFDC also engage in paid employment, the kinds of jobs that they obtain, and their ability to escape poverty through a combination of work and welfare receipt.

     
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    Supporting Work: The Relation Between Employment Opportunities and Financial and Other Support Programs
    by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Beverly Burr (August 1993)

    Testimony before the Working Group on Welfare Reform, Family Support and Independence. Describes employment patterns of single mothers with a history of AFDC receipt. Argues that to implement a time-limited welfare reform plan, eligibility and benefit levels for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Unemployment Insurance must be expanded.

     
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    Improving Employment Opportunities for Women
    by Heidi Hartmann, Roberta Spalter-Roth (February 1991)

    Testimony on H.R. 1 Civil Rights Act of 1991, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor. Describes the importance of women's earnings for family survival, the continued existence of wage and job discrimination, and the effectiveness of civil rights and anti-discrimination policies. Argues that ensuring equal employment opportunities for all workers is needed to strengthen the economy.

     

    How Much Will a Public Service Employment Program Reduce Welfare Costs?
    by (January 1991)

     
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    Women's Work, Family Diversity, and Employment Instability: Public Policy Responses to New Realities
    by Heidi Hartmann (January 1991)

    Testimony before the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, U.S. Senate, Washingotn, DC. Argues that public policy assumes a predominantly white male workforce, traditional families, and stable employment patterns. Offers policy suggestions to more accurately reflect the increasing diversity in the labor force, family structure, and instability in employment and to better secure the nation's long term economic health.

     
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    Women's Work, Economic Trends, and Policy Issues
    by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D (May 1988)

     
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