Women have more jobs -- and more poverty

(MoneyWatch) Although women have regained more jobs than men since the end of the Great Recession, most of those are in low-paying jobs such as waitresses and housekeeping, according to a recent study.

These lower wages may help account for why more women are living in poverty despite their lower unemployment rate.

In January the unemployment rate was the same -- 7.3 percent -- for men and women. Since then, the numbers have diverged significantly. In August the unemployment rate for women was 6.8 percent, the lowest since December 2008, compared to 7.7 percent for men.

A study by the National Women's Law Center found that between 2009 and 2013 about 60 percent of the jobs women were hired for paid less than $10.10 an hour. Men who made that little constituted only 20 percent of the total. Overall, a woman with the same amount of job experience and education as a man can expect to earn about 23 percent less.

Women's National Law Center
















Although women led men in employment, there are also far more of them living in poverty. Overall, 14.5 percent of women lived in poverty in last year, compared to 11 percent of men, according to the U.S. Census. More than 30 percent of families led by single mothers live below the poverty level -- $23,550 or less for a family of four. The poverty rate for single fathers was nearly half that: 16.4 percent. The median income for families headed by men is $48,634, more than $14,000 higher than for families headed by women. Households headed by women vastly outnumber those headed by men.

Other findings from the report:

  • Unemployment rates have declined for most sub groups of women since the start of the recovery, but not for adult African-American women.
  • Long-term unemployment rates for adult women and men were higher in June 2013 than at the start of the recovery and twice as high as at the start of the recession.
  • Women have added over 2.3 million net private sector jobs since June 2009, equal to the number of private sector jobs they lost during the recession. However, women have lost 444,000 public sector jobs, wiping out nearly 19 percent of their private sector job gains in the recovery.

What hope there is for women's earnings lies in the fact that women are pursuing degrees at a higher rate than men -- at a time when people with a college degree are earning much more. Since 2005, women have been surpassing the number of men graduating from college, and last year they accounted for 52 percent of college graduates, a record high.

  • Constantine von Hoffman On Twitter»

    Constantine von Hoffman is a freelance writer and writing coach. His work has appeared in outlets such as Harvard Business Review, NPR, Sierra magazine, Brandweek, CIO, The Boston Herald, TheStreet.com, CSO, and Boston Magazine.

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