Press Release Economic Growth Workers

Economy Creating Fewer Jobs For Women, Younger Workers

August 31, 2005

Contact: Karen Conner, (202) 293-5380 x117Mail_Outline

August 31, 2005

Economy Creating Fewer Jobs For Women, Younger Workers

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 

Contact: Lynn Erskine, 202-293-5380 x115 

Washington, DC: The economic rebound that began almost four years ago is weaker than the four previous recoveries, particularly for women and younger workers, according to a new study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

The report, "Gender Bias in the Current Economic Recovery? Declining Employment Rates for Women in the 21st Century," compared employment growth at this point in the recovery with its performance in the four prior economic recoveries (1969-74, 1973-78, 1980-84 and 1990-94). By this point in the last three recoveries, the employment rate matched or exceeded its pre-recession high point, but not so for the current rebound.

"If the labor market had performed as well during this recovery as it has in the past, about 4.3 million more people would be employed today," said economist Heather Boushey, lead author of the study.

During the most recent recession and recovery there were four major industries that lost more than 5 percent of employment: durable goods, non-durable goods, information, and administrative and waste services. In each of these, women have lost a disproportionate share of the jobs over the course of the recession and recovery.

At this point in the recovery from the 1990-91 recession, the weakest prior post-war recovery, payroll employment among women was already up by 6.6 percent. In the current recovery, employment has only increased by 1.5 percent. The record is even worse in the private sector, where payroll employment has increased by just 0.7 percent, compared to 6.6 percent in the last recovery. If this pattern continues, it will seriously limit the ability of women to reduce the gender gap in economic outcomes.

Decreased female employment is likely to be due to fewer jobs, rather than mothers choosing to leave work. Employment rates have dropped for women without children nearly as much as for mothers.

Employment rates for younger workers have dropped during the current recovery, while they have actually risen rapidly for older workers. This also stands in contrast to earlier business cycles, which reflected a general trend for older workers to retire earlier as our economy gets more productive. Now, due to shrinking 401(k)s and rising health care costs, older workers are staying on the job. At the same time, younger workers are not finding their place in the labor market.

For access to the report see: "Gender Bias in the Current Economic Recovery? Declining Employment Rates for Women in the 21st Century."

Note: The Institute for Women's Policy Research today released a new analysis of how the 2004 gender wage gap fits into historical trends.


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