In advance of Labor Day, a new analysis of national unemployment rates by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that many young women, particularly women ages 25 to 34, are experiencing unemployment at higher rates than in 2007. The year 2017 marks a decade since the start of the Great Recession, which ran from December 2007 to June 2009.
The analysis, which looks at young women of different age brackets by race and ethnicity, also finds that, across each age group, young Black women’s unemployment rates were higher in 2016 than White women’s unemployment rates were at their peak in 2010. For instance, in 2016, Black women aged 25-34, experienced an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent, which was higher than the peak rate experienced by White women of the same age in 2010 (7.7 percent). For younger women, the disparity is even wider.
“While the overall unemployment rate for American workers is now lower than it was just prior to the Great Recession, Millennial women, especially Millennial women of color, have still not fully recovered from the recession,” said IWPR Senior Research Scientist Chandra Childers, Ph.D. “These are women who were just entering the workforce or early in their careers when the recession hit, and the ensuing high unemployment paused the development of their skills and work experience.”
Unemployment rates have consistently been the highest for younger women, those aged 16-19, especially younger women of color. The unemployment rate for Black women and girls aged 16-19 increased from 25.3 percent in 2007 to 40.5 percent in 2010. By 2016, their unemployment rate had fallen to 22.8 percent, almost ten (9.6) percentage points higher than the rate for White women and girls of the same age.
“Youth unemployment is a critical issue because prolonged unemployment in the years following high school or college graduation means lost wages and lost opportunities to gain work experience, develop occupational skills, and cultivate a professional network,” said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “What our analysis shows is that young women of color must be central to the discussion of how to reduce youth unemployment.”