By Joan Entmacher and Katherine Gallagher Robbins
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 was central to preserving public sector jobs, most of which are held by women. Not only did it provide funds for state and local education and Medicaid—which kept teachers and health care workers on the job—it bolstered state budgets so other services could avoid deep cuts. ARRA also provided additional funding to states for child care, child support enforcement, and administration to handle the upsurge in Food Stamp and Unemployment Insurance claims. So, when ARRA funding started drying up in mid-2010, public sector jobs started to disappear, slowing down the recovery, especially for women.
Since July 2010, the public sector has lost 577,000 jobs—59 percent of which employed women. These public sector job losses for women have essentially wiped out 30 percent of the job gains women made in the private sector in the post-recession period (since June 2009). (See nwlc.org/resource/stronger-recovery-reaching-women.)
During the recession period (December 2007 to June 2009) LFP increased slightly for adult women but decreased for adult men. In the recovery period so far, LFP for both women and men has declined.
The EPOP for adult women dropped during the recession and through most of the recovery period but appears to have stabilized in 2012. However, the EPOP for adult men, which dropped during the recession, has yet to make a recovery.
While a smaller share of men were in the labor force as of October 2012 compared to the end of the recession (June 2009), the same share of men were employed at these two points.
The combination of the decline in the LFP rate and the steady EPOP has led to a drop in the men’s unemployment rate since the beginning of the recovery. A smaller share of women were in the labor force in October 2012 compared to the end of the recession—despite their increased participation during the recession—and the share of employed women also dropped off during the recession and recovery periods. Since the decline in women’s LFP rate was steeper than in women’s EPOP, these trends have reduced women’s unemployment rate slightly since the beginning of the recovery.