On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its October jobs report, which shows that the unemployment number has moved up, from 7.8% last month to 7.9% this month. For adult women, the rate is worse: the rate of unemployment increased by .2% to 7.2%. (It stayed the same for men at 7.3%.) Because many women are more focused on economics than body parts, and the Obama campaign has focused heavily on social issues, this new data may affect how some women vote.
The women's vote has been courted heavily throughout the election season. In many battleground states, women have historically outvoted men. When more women are focused on economic issues, now is a bad time for women's unemployment to increase. The Obama policies have not decreased the high unemployment rate. When he took office in January of 2009, the unemployment rate for women s 7.0%, and it has only risen during Obama's tenure in office.
Friday's report also showed that 171,000 jobs were added in most industries except state government. This is seen as a positive indicator, but many do not believe it is good enough, noting that it is almost identical to the 170,000 increase in the unemployed.
One of the most disconcerting figures in the report is the real unemployment rate of 14.6%, which includes the under-employed and those who have given up looking for work. How can you think about your future when you are simply trying to put bread on the table or stay abreast with your rent or mortgage? Seeing the unemployment figure rise by .2% for adult women is particularly concerning because of the impact that has on single parent households headed by women. In 2010, 23.1 % of American children lived with their mothers only.
How do the Obama and Romney jobs plans differ? In short, Obama's plan relies more on government involvement, while Romney's focuses on less government invention. Labor unions and outsourcing policies are dissimilar, as well. (For an interesting and brief overview of their major policy differences that relate to jobs, see Obama vs. Romney 101: 5 Ways They Differ on Jobs.)
The BLS jobs report does not bode well for those of us who need work, and the statistics similarly do not bode well for the Obama administration.
- The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9%, up from 7.8% in September.
- The real unemployment rate was 14.6%, which includes the under-employed and those who have given up looking for work.
- 23 million Americans are still looking for work. In January 2009, that figure was 22 million.
- 2 out of 5Americans looking for work have been out of work for more than six months.
- 3.6 million Americans have been out of work for a year and are still looking for work.
- 813,000 Americans have stopped looking for work.
- In January 2009, the average amount of time spent unemployed was 19.8 weeks. Today, the amount of time has doubled, rising to 40.2 weeks from 39.8 weeks last month, the highest since December 2011.
Other related facts also don't support the "Hope and Change" promised by the Obama campaign in 2008.
- 46.7 million Americans are on food stamps, a record high.
- Nearly 1 in 6Americans are living in poverty, the highest number in two decades.
- College tuition is up 25%.
- Gas prices are up 100%.
Since WWII, no incumbent has won reelection when the unemployment rate was above 7.4% (Ronald Reagan in 1984). Are women going to vote for more of this?
Jobs and our economic health are of primary importance in these broken times. With fewer of us working, more of us may be voting for change in the form of more effective economic policies and job creation. Since more women are basing their vote on the economy, the jobs report and outlook for women has to have a negative impact on women supporting Obama. That means we're more inclined to vote with our lady smarts than make this about our "lady parts," as coined by an Obama campaign ad.
According to last week's Associated Press GfK poll, women are polling at 47% for Romney and 47% for Obama. Any previously undecided women voting with their smarts might be likely to vote in favor of policies that could increase the number of sisters and brothers who can put bread on the table and support their families.
Jobs are important, jobs are down for women more than men., and votes by women will affect the election. Since no further economic indicators will be released before Tuesday, the new numbers bode well for Mitt Romney. If smart women are voting, they will consider the importance of jobs.