California’s Women Not Sharing Equally in Recovery, Recent Budget Cuts Threaten Opportunity

New Report Highlights Lagging Employment Among State’s Women, Deep Cuts Affecting Pathways to Career Advancement and Economic Security


SACRAMENTO – Almost four years since the end of the Great Recession, the impact of the downturn is still acutely felt among women – especially low-income women – in California, according to a study released today by the California Budget Project, in partnership with the Women’s Foundation of California.

A Fair Chance: Why California Should Invest in Economic Opportunity for Women and Their Families shows that California’s women have not shared equally in the state’s emerging recovery, with employment among the state’s women declining in the past two years, even as it increased among men. The report also finds that budget cuts made in recent years continue to cloud the economic outlook for women and have weakened services and supports that promote their economic security.

“California needs to do better in fostering opportunities for women, and particularly low-income women, to participate in the economic recovery as it continues to gain momentum,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the California Budget Project. “State policies can and should play a key role in supporting women’s pathways to good careers and a secure economic future.”

The report finds that:

  • Women’s and men’s employment rates have gone in opposite directions during the past two years. Between December 2010 and December 2012, the employment rate for California men increased by 1.7 percentage points (from 79.4 percent to 81.1 percent), while decreasing by 0.8 percentage points for women (from 65.3 percent to 64.5 percent).
  • Local government employment – long a jobs mainstay for California’s women – has declined over the past four years and continued to trend lower throughout 2012, showing the lasting effect on women’s employment of the deep budget cuts made in recent years. Local government employment includes jobs with K-12 public schools, community colleges, and cities and counties.
  • Women have accounted for more than two-thirds of a huge drop in California community college enrollment, which declined by more than 300,000 students between 2007-08 and 2011-12. This means women have less access to education and training that lead to employment or to a four-year degree program. In addition, women’s enrollment at the University of California and California State University has lagged men’s since 2007.
  • Amid a weak job market and growing poverty, state policymakers have made significant cuts across a range of programs and services that help women find and keep work and provide for their families. These include steep reductions to child care and preschool funding – causing the elimination of more than 100,000 slots – as well as to welfare-to-work services and cash assistance provided through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Program.

“We’ve seen a disturbing pattern of disinvestment in California’s women and families that has led to more families sinking deeper into poverty,” said Judy Patrick, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of California. “The thing is, it’s not just women and families who pay the price for these disinvestments. We all do. We won’t achieve an innovative and prosperous California unless we invest in women’s economic advancement and healthy, welleducated children.”

A Fair Chance is available online at the CBP’s website,


The California Budget Project (CBP) engages in independent fiscal and policy analysis and public education with the goal of improving public policies affecting the economic and social well-being of low- and middle-income Californians. Support for the CBP comes from foundation grants, subscriptions, and individual contributions. Please visit the CBP’s website at