MEDIA RELEASE: Unemployment for men, women doubled during recession

With federal backing for unemployment benefits set to expire soon, national lawmakers should offer continued support to families across the state

RALEIGH (Dec. 6, 2011) – Men and women across North Carolina are without jobs, and have only seen unemployment rise since the beginning of the Great Recession. With federal support for extended unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of December, lawmakers should act now to protect the lives of these individuals, analysts say.

Extended unemployment benefits impact the lives of tens of thousands of North Carolinians, both male and female. The NC Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center, released a profile of unemployment in men and women across the state this morning, which finds that both men and women have seen their unemployment double in the Great Recession.

In 2010, women had an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, up from 4.9 percent in 2007. Men had a slightly higher growth, from 4.2 percent in 2007 to 11.7 percent in 2010. The labor force participation for both genders declined so greatly that, as of last year, the employment-to-population ratios for men and women were at their lowest points since 1983 and 1979, respectively

The unemployment profile reveals that while the official recession period has disproportionately affected men, economic recovery has in fact hit women the hardest. Nationally, men lost more than twice the number of jobs that women did between December 2007 and June 2009. Yet for the first time in a recovery since 1970, women have lost jobs while men found them nationally.

Job loss, declines in earning, and high unemployment have led to significant economic hardship for families throughout the state as they struggle to pay bills and save for the future. Women have been hit particularly hard, with single mothers reporting greater daily challenges resulting from underemployment. The median family with children in North Carolina lost more than $5,000 in income over the Great Recession.

Tens of thousands of North Carolinians will be harmed if federal lawmakers allow unemployment benefits to expire. In Jan. 2012 alone, 69,700 North Carolinians will be affected by the loss of unemployment benefits.

Federal legislation allows states to receive full federal funding for extended unemployment benefits for 34 to 73 weeks after state unemployment programs have been exhausted. In North Carolina, unemployment benefits last 26 weeks. The National Employment Law Project has a petition encouraging lawmakers to extend the badly-needed benefits.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, alexandra@ncjustice.org, 919.861.1468; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (cell).

The N.C. Budget and Tax Center—a project of the N.C. Justice Center—seeks to create economic opportunity and shared prosperity for all North Carolinians through non-partisan research, education and advocacy on budget, tax and economic issues.