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Jobs Report: Unemployment Rates For Men And Women Equal For First Time Since Recession Started

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The economic recovery has been more favorable to men than it has been for women, and for the first time since the start of the recession, men and women are seeing the same rate of unemployment.

Of the 243,000 jobs added in January, 39 percent were filled by women, according to the National Women's Law Center. This translated to a 0.3 percent drop in unemployment for men and a 0.2 percent drop for women, with their respective unemployment rates leveling out at 7.7 percent. (This figure represents adult unemployment and falls below the nationwide rate of 8.3 percent, which accounts for unemployed teenagers.)

Women are trailing behind men in the economic recovery, claiming a mere eight percent of the 1.9 million jobs that have been added to the economy since the end of the recession in June 2009, a NWLC study shows. Unemployment rates for women have actually risen from 7.6 percent in June 2009 to today's figure of 7.7 percent, while men have seen unemployment fall from 9.9 to 7.7 percent over the course of the recovery.

The recession was originally dubbed "the mancession," with more men than women feeling the heat from the economic downturn. Men lost 70 percent of the 7.5 million jobs that were eliminated between December 2007 and June 2009. Some speculated that women may, for the first time, hold a majority stake in the nation's workforce, according to the New York Times.

Men are now earning back the jobs they lost in the recession, outpacing women and defying historical post-recession trends that have been favorable to women, according to the Pew Research Center:

Women fared better than men in the first two years of all other economic recoveries since 1970. Both women and men gained jobs, with women doing so at a faster rate, immediately after the recessions in 1969-70, 1973-75, 1980-82 and 1990-91.

It is not entirely clear why unemployment rates for women have increased since the start of the recovery. One reason may be that women are 50 percent more likely than men to hold public sector jobs, which have seen a net loss during the recovery. Men are also being hired in fields that have traditionally employed many women, such as retail, health and education, according to the Financial Times.

As men outpace women in landing jobs, they also continue to out-earn women. Though, women outnumber men on college campuses, and more women than men are being awarded doctoral degrees, women continue to be paid less than their male counterparts who hold equivalent degrees.

Women earned 78.2 of what men earned in median salary in 2009, according to the U.S. Census.

In "creative class jobs" the gender wage gap is particularly stark, as highlighted by the Atlantic:

Women hold slightly more than half (52.3 percent) of creative class jobs and their average level of education is almost the same as men. But the pay they receive is anything but equal. Creative class men earn an average of $82,009 versus $48,077 for creative class women.

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Filed by Emily Cohn