Unemployment in Female-Headed Households

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From our friends at the National Women’s Law Center, this news about the extension of unemployment of insurance benefits, signed into law today:

Unemployment rose to 10.2 percent in October, reaching a 26-year high, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the unemployment rate among men is higher than among women, 10.7 percent compared to 8.1 percent, both rates rose last month and are at their highest levels in decades.

Especially worrisome is the unemployment rate for women who head families. At 12.9 percent, it’s higher than the rate for men or women — and it jumped by 11 percent in one month to reach its highest level in 26 years. Even before the sharp rise in unemployment this year, more than one in three (37.2 percent) female-headed families with children were poor in 2008. Women of color also continue to experience high rates of unemployment: 12.4 percent for Black women and 10.4 percent for Hispanic women.

In the face of these statistics, we’re relieved that a bill extending unemployment insurance benefits made it through Congress and was signed by President Obama today after being stalled for weeks in the Senate. The measure provides additional weeks of assistance to those who have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits: up to 14 weeks in every state, and up to six more weeks in states with unemployment above 8.5 percent. * * *  The additional unemployment insurance benefits approved today will provide indispensable assistance, and the Recovery Act is helping to preserve and create jobs and deliver help to struggling families and communities. But in the face of this unemployment crisis and predictions that unemployment and poverty will remain high for many months, more is needed to create jobs and promote a shared recovery.

To read the whole post by Joan Entmacher and Valerie Norton, see here.

-Bridget Crawford

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