Last month, women completed the recovery of all 11.9 million jobs they lost early in the pandemic more than two years ago and are now 85,000 jobs above their pre-COVID level.
The economy added 263,000 jobs in September. Women filled 155,000 of those jobs, and have added jobs for 21 consecutive months. The news comes two months after the economy as a whole topped its pre-pandemic levels.
Still, the news isn’t all good for women:
- Men have gained 429,000 jobs since February 2020 – five times as many as women.
- The share of women working or looking for jobs – or the labor participation rate (56.8%) – has recovered from a low of 54.6% in April 2020, but its still a full percentage point below pre-pandemic levels.
Some fields dominated by women shed lots of jobs in early 2020 – like restaurants and bars, education and health care – and are now bouncing back.
Women gained the most jobs in education and health services. Of the 90,000 jobs added in September, women, who make up 77% of the sector, gained all but 5,000 of the new jobs.
Women also gained 45,000 of the 83,000 new hospitality and leisure jobs. They also gained 7,300 jobs in the retail trade sector, while men lost 8,400.
Child care remains a pain point in the U.S. economy.
Women hold 9 in 10 of the child care jobs, and the sector has 102,400 fewer workers than in February 2020, including the 2,000 jobs lost between August and September.
The unemployment rate fell from 3.7% fell to 3.5%, reclaiming a 50-year low, the Labor Department said Friday. But that’s largely because 57,000 Americans left the labor force, which includes people working or looking for jobs, even as payrolls expanded.
Contributing: Paul Davidson