Why Women’s Unemployment Data Is Worse Than You Might Think
2:45 pm, August 8th | by Amy Tennery
While rates of unemployment generally appear cut-and-dry, straight-forward stats, the problems with women and unemployment may be more complicated than most realize, according to a new study from economists at the University of Missouri provided to The Jane Dough.
First, the basics: A July U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report places adult male and adult female unemployment at 7.7 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively. But despite this seeming near-parity in unemployment rates, researchers say unemployment is likely steeper for women in some job sectors.
From the University of Missouri report:
“The belief that Americans are achieving equal levels of unemployment is flawed,” said Peter Mueser, professor of economics at MU and co-author of the study. “By statistically accounting for differences in professions and industry, we developed a more detailed reflection of unemployment experiences in different groups. For example, although overall unemployment rates for women are similar to those of men, women are more frequently employed in sectors with generally low unemployment, such as health care and education. The concentration of women in those fields masks higher unemployment rates within sectors.”
With this in mind, it’s easy to see why women in so-called “non-traditional” jobs for their gender are struggling more than their male counterparts. And it’s fascinating to see data that, as Mueser puts it “refutes the idea that genders, races and ethnicities have the same labor market experiences.” But while Mueser says point blank that the report “can’t say anything about why these inequalities exist,” it’s gratifying to see research tackle the intersection of gender issues and job market data.
The numbers might look the same for women and men in the job market — the reality is anything but.