The economic recovery from the Great Recession officially began four years ago last month, and while the unemployment picture has improved for most groups, it is still higher for adult African-American women now than it was then, according to a new report from the National Women’s Law Center. Their unemployment rate currently stands at 12 percent, compared to 11.8 percent in June 2009. It is also nearly 1.7 times higher than their rate before the crash, which stood at 7.1 percent in December 2007.
The report has some other bad news for jobs during the recovery. It finds that unemployment rates for adult men and women have declined overall since June 2009, but they are still more than 1.5 times higher since before the recession. Women’s unemployment rate stands at 6.8 percent, and the last time they saw one that high was in 1985. Long-term unemployment rates for both genders are also higher than they were when the recovery began.
The kinds of jobs being created in the recovery are also worrying. Both men and women have made a lot of gains in low-wage sectors and in temp jobs. But while men have made some gains in blue collar work, women are still bleeding jobs. Men gained 364,000 jobs in manufacturing, while women lost 121,000. In financial activities, men gained 169,000 jobs and women lost 93,000. And while they both lost jobs in the well paying public sector, women bore the majority.
During this period, black unemployment has hit highs that haven’t been seen since the mid-80s. Their unemployment rate is expected to be above 10 percent for the next decade — and it in fact was that high long before the recession, staying above that level for the past ten years.
While men initially saw a higher unemployment rate when the recession hit, men’s and women’s rates converged in early 2012 as women suffered the majority of public sector job losses. Black women have been battered by trends affecting both groups.
Meanwhile, as job growth steadily continues, it’s clear that the majority of jobs being created are low-wage and temp jobs that offer little pay and few benefits. And that pay is getting even worse, as occupations at the bottom of the pay scale are seeing wages erode the fastest.