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Unemployment Among Black Women Surges

Special to the NNPA from the Louisiana Weekly | 8/22/2010, 11:30 a.m.

Analysis by the National Wo-men's Law Center of July jobs data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has revealed that unemployment surged among vulnerable groups of women last month, highlighting the need for Congress to do more to help vulnerable families.

While the data indicates no change in overall unemployment and little change for all men and women, the unemployment rates for women who head families and minority women shot up, while rates among minority men dropped.

Unemployment for women who head families jumped to 13.4 percent in July from 12.1 percent in June. This marks the highest unemployment rate for this particularly vulnerable group since the recession began in December 2007 and the highest rate in over 25 years.

Unemployment among African-American women rose from 11.8 percent in June to 12.9 percent in July, while the rate for African-American men declined from 17.4 percent to 16.7 percent. The situation was similar for Hispanic women, whose unemployment rate increased by 1.1 percentage points to 12.1 percent in July, marking this group's highest unemployment rate since 1986. Hispanic men's unemployment rate dropped from 11.3 percent in June to 10.2 percent in July.

Women lost 62 percent of the 131,000 non-farm jobs lost in July. And while the private sector added 71,000 jobs, women's employment actually dropped by 1,000 jobs in this area. Additionally state and local government education systems, a female-dominated sector, shed a substantial number of jobs. Preliminary numbers reveal that local education lost 27,100 jobs, the largest loss of any industry (excluding temporary Census workers).

"Today's data show that for many women and families, things are getting worse," said Nancy Duff Campbell, NWLC Co-President. "Congress must do far more to help the most vulnerable. Additional funding for child care assistance, child support enforcement, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Fund would help struggling families make ends meet. But even more must be done to create jobs and strengthen the economy."

Congress recently extended enhanced unemployment benefits through November to help workers unemployed for six months or more, and the Senate just approved additional funding to states and localities for health care and education that will help stem further job losses and deeper cuts in public services.

But Congress has yet to act on a more substantial jobs measure--the Jobs for America Act, additional funding for child care assistance, restored funding for child support enforcement, and an extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund, which has allowed states to create jobs and provide emergency assistance to families.

"This brutal recession will have lasting effects on the well-being of women and their families," Campbell said. "Congress must treat it as the emergency it is."