Largest Gap between Male and Female Unemployment Rates since 1948

By: - January 21, 2010 11:50 am

According to a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute, the difference between the national unemployment rates for men and women is the highest since data collection began in 1948. By the third quarter of 2010, the male unemployment rate is projected to reach 11.7% while the female rate will hit 9.7%.

The gender rate gap is far greater in North Carolina than for the nation as a whole. In the third quarter of 2009, the latest period for which we have detailed demographic data, the unemployment rate amongst North Carolina’s males hit 12.6%. The rate is projected to peak at 13.3% in the third quarter of this year. Both rates are above the national average for males.

The North Carolina female unemployment rate is substantially lower than the North Carolina male rate – 8.9% in the third quarter of last year, and peaking at 9.4% later this year. These figures are slightly below the national rate for women.

The likelihood of unemployment is far higher nationally for African-Americans or Hispanics than for whites. In the third quarter of 2009, the national rate for African-Americans was 15.5% and 12.4% for Hispanics. The rates are projected to peak at 17.2% for African-Americans and 13.9% for Hispanics in the third quarter of this year. The national rate for whites was 8.1% in the third quarter of 2009 and is expected to reach 9% later this year.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate for African-Americans is below the national average and was 14.1% in the third quarter of 2009. It is expected to reach 14.9% later this year. The unemployment rate for whites in North Carolina is slightly higher than the national average, however – 9.6% in the third quarter of 2009 and an expected peak of 10.1% later this year. North Carolina data is unavailable for Hispanics.

The high unemployment figures for North Carolina men and whites reflects the massive job loss in manufacturing and construction since the end of 2007. Over 90 000 jobs have been lost in manufacturing. That’s about 1 in 6 of those jobs. Over 65 000 or one-quarter of all construction jobs have been lost in the same period.

While hard to digest, the data is better than it could be had North Carolina’s labor force participation rate remained at levels of the 1990s. As good jobs became harder to find and the low wage service sector boomed in the 2000s, the percentage of men and women actively working or looking for work has declined significantly.

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