Listen to the conventional wisdom, and youâ€™ll hear that women have fared better than men in the recent recession. In reality,Â women are not only shouldering the burden of being the sole breadwinner in more families than ever before, they also account for the majority of public-sector layoffs. Single mothers and women in communities of color continue to suffer rising unemployment ofÂ more thanÂ 12 percent.
Against that backdrop, the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), as part of a coalition of 40 national organizations, is launchingÂ HERvotes,Â a nonpartisan campaign to mobilize women around the pressing issues of health and economic rights.
While itâ€™s true that the initial rounds of layoffs after the housing bubble burst in 2007 and the stock market crashed in 2008 hit men harder than women, men have now benefitted significantly from the jobs added to the economy in the ensuing years. As CLUW Executive Director Carol Rosenblatt notes in aÂ post on the HERvotes blog:
According to an analysis by the National Womenâ€™s Law Center, women lost 46,000 jobs from December 2007 â€“ June 2009 while men gained 1.26 million.
She also notes that women comprise nearly 64 percent of laid-off public-sectorÂ workers â€” a number disproportionate to their 57 percent representation in the public-sector workforce. (See our report,Â here.)
Drawing from the stories of unemployed people that appear on the AFL-CIO
site where jobless workers are relating their stories, Rosenblatt highlights the comments of two women among those ranks, including a poignant entry from a Pennsylvania woman named Juli, who writes:
Without unemployment, I have no way to feed my two sons, to pay our rent, to try and find another job.
Rosenblattâ€™s post appeared in a HERvotes blog carnival, part of a campaign to get Congress to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits to those whose benefits are about to expire in January.
One way you can participate, via Twitter, is to retweet these, which both HERvotes and MomsRising have been sending from their Twitter accounts:
Call Congress:Â 888-245-3381 Tell your Rep to oppose @RepDaveCamp bill #HR3630 to slash unemployment ins. #extendUI #HERvotes PlsRT
#Unemployment Insurance=critical 4 #women! TAKEACTION:EZ Click-to-call:Â http://j.mp/uZOqhp Tell Congress #ExtendUI Oppose HR 3630 #HERvotes
#ExtendUI!Â #Women speak up 4Â #unemployed workersÂ #HERvotes blog carnivalÂ http://t.co/kfQlC0qA
The HERvotes actionsÂ also included taking part in last weekâ€™sÂ prayer vigil for jobless workers and a FridayÂ gathering on Capitol Hill focusing on unemployment that featuredÂ Eleanor Smeal, president,Â Feminist Majority; Linda Hallman, executive director, American Association of University Women (AAUW); Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president, National Womenâ€™s Law Center (NWLC); Nancy Kaufman, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW); Gloria Lau, CEO,Â YWCA USA;Â Donna Norton, national campaign director of Momâ€™s Rising; Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and CLUW President Karen See. After the event, many of the participants joined in aÂ prayer vigil that took place outside the U.S. Capitol Building.
This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now Blog on December 13, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Adele Stan isÂ a journalist and lifelong member of the labor movement, reports on a timely forum on inequality and jobs at Georgetown University today.