Dec 16, 2020 - Economy

Women's unemployment crisis revealed

Data: LISEP; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Data: LISEP; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The true unemployment rate for women isn't going down, as official statistics suggest. In fact, it's going up — at least according to the most recent analysis of official data from LISEP, the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity.

By the numbers: The LISEP definition of "true unemployment" includes anybody who's looking for a full-time job paying a living wage, but who hasn't been able to find one. By that metric, 30.9% of American women were unemployed in November — an increase of 0.5% from the October figure.

  • The true unemployment for women is more than 5 times the official female unemployment rate of 6.1%. By contrast, the true unemployment for men is only 3 times the official male unemployment rate.

Between the lines: Women are finding jobs — but those jobs are disproportionately likely to be part-time or very low-paid. (The LISEP data sets the living wage at $20,000 per year, so you need to be making less than that to count as unemployed by their metric.)

What they're saying: "While a larger percentage of women may have some form of employment, those jobs fail to provide a living wage,” says Gene Ludwig, LISEP's founder. “If the TRU reports are any indication, the glass ceiling has been reglazed and double-paned in terms of opportunities for women in the workforce.”

The bottom line: Insofar as there has been an economic recovery from the depths of the recession earlier this year, it seems to have petered out when it comes to employment in general, and to women's employment in particular.

  • My thought bubble: Absent major government stimulus, expect the unemployment rate — both official and true — to stagnate or even start going back up again from here.
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