Women have been disproportionately affected by the public sector layoffs that have become an unfortunate mainstay of the sluggish economic recovery, according to the National Women’s Law Center. The public sector has shed some 700,000 jobs in the last three years — which are the three worst years for public employment on record — and women have born the brunt of those cuts, while not seeing a large share of private sector job gains:
Since the start of the recovery three years ago, women have gained 908,000 net private sector jobs — and lost 396,000 net public sector jobs. Men have gained 2,304,000 net private sector jobs — and lost 231,000 net public sector jobs. In the last three years, women have a net gain of 512,000 jobs; men have a net gain of 2,073,000 jobs.
Men have gained enough jobs in the last three years to equalize the unemployment rate between the sexes. As Bryce Covert explained at Forbes, “Some of this is making up for the disproportionate number of jobs that men lost during the recession itself as construction and manufacturing collapsed. But given that men have experienced over four times the job gains made by women, that can’t account for all of it.”
Public sector layoffs have also disproportionately affected African-Americans. If public employment had simply grown at the historic rate during the recession, instead of shrinking dramatically, the unemployment rate would be a full percentage point lower.