766,000 More Women Unemployed Today Than When Obama Took Office

Terence P. Jeffrey | June 1, 2012 | 11:10am EDT
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Former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama at the White House on May 31, 2012 for the unveiling of President Bush's portrait. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(CNSNews.com) - The number of American women who are unemployed was 766,000 individuals greater in May 2012 than in January 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In January 2009, there were approximately 5,005,000 unemployed women in the United States, according to BLS. In May 2012, there were 5,771,000.

The BLS derives its employment statistics from an overall number it calls the civilian non-institutional population. This includes all Americans 16 or over who are not on active duty in the military and who are not in an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home. From this civilian non-institutional population, BLS determines a subset it calls the civilian labor force, which includes all members of the civilian non-institutional population who are either employed or have made specific efforts to find work in the past four weeks. People who are not employed and who have not sought work in the past four weeks are considered by the BLS to have dropped out of the labor force.

Unemployed people are those who are in the labor force but do not have a job—despite having looked for one in the past four weeks. The unemployment rate is the percentage of the overall civilian labor force that does not have a job—that is, who have sought a job in the past four weeks and not found one.

In January 2009, according to BLS, the unemployment rate for American women was 7.0 percent. In May 2012, it was 7.9 percent.

When Obama took office in January 2009, the female civilian non-institutional population was 121,166,000. In May 2012, it hit 125,788,000—an increase of 4,622,000 since January 2012.

However, at the same time the female civilian non-institutional population was increasing, the percentage participating in the labor force was declining—following a long-term trend. In January 2009, 59.4 percent of women participated in the labor force, while in May 2012 it was 57.8.

May’s 57.8 percent female participation rate in the labor force was up from April’s rate of 57.6 percent—but that level (57.6 percent) was the lowest it had been since March 1993.Female participation in the labor force peaked at 60.3 percent in April 2000. The last time it was above 60 percent was March 2001, when it hit 60.2 percent.

Despite the increase in the female non-institutional population over the past three years, the actual number of women employed in the United States in May 2012 was about 83,000 lower than it was in January 2009. In January 2009, there were 66,969,000 women employed in the United States and in May 2012 there were 66,886,000.

The number of women employed in the United States peaked at 68,102,000 in April 2008, according to BLS.  The number of women employed in the United States today is 1,216,000 less than that.

BLS posts historical data on female employment going back to 1948. Since then, the female unemployment rate hit its lowest level—2.7 percent—in May 1953. At that time, however, only 34.0 percent of non-institutionalized American civilian women 16 or older participated in the labor force.

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