Half of January Job Gains for Women Were in Low-Wage Industries

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Half of January Job Gains for Women Were in Low-Wage Industries

Emily Crockett

More women's job gains were in low-wage industries last month than in 2014 overall, and women already make up two-thirds of the low-wage workforce.

Half of the new jobs gained by women in January were in low-wage industries, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).

The January jobs report was encouraging overall, with 257,000 new jobs added. Even if job growth continues at this rate, however, it will take until May 2017 for the labor market to get back to the pre-recession health it enjoyed in 2007.

Of those 257,000 new jobs, 39 percent, or 101,000, went to women. About half of those jobs were in the low-wage sectors of retail and leisure and hospitality.

That’s a bit worse for women than 2014 overall, when women gained about 45 percent of new jobs and 27 percent of those were in retail or hospitality.

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Just one-fifth of men’s job gains last month, and one-third of job gains overall, were in those same low-wage sectors.

Women make up a disproportionate number—two-thirds—of low-wage workers. Women working as home health aides, fast-food workers, maids, and other low-wage jobs tend to lack access to benefits, like paid sick leave or child care, that they need to take care of their families.

“The economy is moving in the right direction, but we need to step on the gas—not ease off,” said Joan Entmacher, NWLC’s vice president for family economic security. “Half of women’s job gains last month were in low-wage sectors that don’t pay enough to support a family.”