The Employment Situation for Women – Their Unique Struggles on the Work Front
While those looking for work often struggle to find jobs, women, in particular, face numerous issues that compound the situation. From higher unemployment rates than their male counterparts, inequities in pay, and a higher reliance on minimum wage job, women must straddle numerous hurdles in the employment market.
Specific to unemployment, while adult women aged 20 and over saw their unemployment rate edge down in February to 7.0 percent (from 7.3 percent the previous month), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic [i], race and ethnicity continue to determine whether rates of unemployment are higher. While white women in the 20 and over age bracket show an unemployment rate of 6.0 percent (an improvement year of year of 13 percent when unemployment was at 6.9 percent), African American and Hispanic women in the same age bracket continue to have an unemployment situation that is less positive.
In February, African American women held an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent, which is 6% percent higher than a year ago when the unemployment situation for this work bracket was 11.8 percent [ii]. Hispanics held unemployment at 10 percent. [iii], which is actually down from a high of 11 percent the previous year.
And compounding the issues on the work-front further, women also face pay disparities, earning 79.1 percent of every dollar earned by their male counterparts earn [iv]. Women are also straddled by further pay inequities as a result of their reliance on minimum wage jobs. In fact, according to the National Women's Law Center (visit here http://www.nwlc.org/), [v] and statistics from the Bureau of Labor, women represent nearly two–thirds of minimum wage workers. Some key facts:
- Women made up about two–thirds of all workers who were paid minimum wage or less in 2012, and 61 percent of full–time minimum wage workers. Women were also nearly two–thirds of workers in tipped occupations in 2012. These workers provide care for children and frail elders, clean homes and offices, and wait tables. [v]
- Women of color are disproportionately represented among female minimum wage workers. Black women were just under 13 percent and Hispanic women were just under 14 percent of all employed women in 2012,but more than 15 percent of women who made minimum wage were black and more than 18 percent were Hispanic.[v]
- Most women making minimum wage do not have a spouse’s income to rely on, including more than three–quarters of women 16 and older and 59 percent of women over 25 earning the minimum wage.[v]
As with most of our reports, we like to end on a positive note. There are numerous legislations that have been enacted and continue to be updated to level the playing field, such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 signed into law by President Barack Obama, passed decades after the Equal Pay Act of 1963. For more on the history of this, read our article here.
- [I] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A–1. Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age
- [II] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A–2. Employment status of the civilian population by race, sex, and age
- [III] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A–3. Employment status of the Hispanic or Latino population by sex and age
- [IV] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 2. Median usual weekly earnings of full–time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics, quarterly averages (PDF)
- [V] National Women’s Law Center
- [VI] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 10. Employed wage and salary workers paid hourly rates with earnings at or below the prevailing federal minimum wage by sex, 1979–2012 annual averages