The American workforce is resilient despite recent natural disasters. Americans are getting back to work. That’s the takeaway from today’s September jobs report.
The unemployment rate declined to 4.2 percent in September. Some 330,000 fewer workers were unemployed. Those are big headlines, but there’s more to the story that women should be paying attention to.
Here are three bright spots for women in today’s job’s report:
Employment for women is climbing
The unemployment rate for women over 20 is down to 3.9 percent from 4.0 percent in August. Some 230,000 more women were working in September and nearly one million more women had a job (69.7 million) than September of last year (68.7 million). The labor participation rate, which captures women who are employed or looking for work, is up from this time one year ago as well. (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm)
Wages are rising
Average hourly earnings for all workers rose 12 cents to $26.55 over the past year and average weekly earnings rose about $5. Workers are taking home $913 per week compared to $888 this time one year ago. That’s an extra $100 each month for groceries, healthcare, date nights, clothing, or savings that women can put to good use. (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t19.htm)
Forced part-time work is at a low
There was a dramatic decline in the number of Americans across all industries working part time even though they wanted a full-time job (underemployment) in September. Some 4.8 million people are underemployed down from 5.2 million in August and down from 5.5 million one year ago. (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t08.htm#cps_empsit_a05.f.3) Women are more likely to be underemployed than men in part because they occupy low-skilled jobs with fewer hours or higher unemployment.
Despite the good news, there is at least one dark spot in the job's report:
Leisure & Hospitality lost 111,000 jobs
Employment in entertainment, accommodations, and food fell sharply due to the hurricanes, which doesn’t bode well for women. 105,000 jobs were lost in food and drinking places alone affecting everyone from hostesses to cooks. This was the darkest spot in the jobs report, but we hope will turn around as life gets back to normal in Texas and Florida, a big area for leisure and travel. (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm)
Despite the hurricanes, the economy continues to improve and give workers -who have dropped out of the labor force- the confidence to return.
Policymakers can encourage even greater job creation and wage growth by passing tax reform. Americans will get to keep more of their hard-earned dollars and business owners will be spurred to provide higher wages to their workers as well as to reinvest in their businesses.