American Crossroads: “Obama’s War On Women”

In a minute-long web video, American Crossroads triumphantly throws out every statistic it can find about the recession’s impact on women, claiming that higher poverty and unemployment among women add up to evidence of a “war on women” that’s “being waged in our economy.” But video clips of sad women looking out windows don’t make this line of attack any more valid than conservative groups’ standard attempt to blame overall recession-driven job losses on President Obama, who inherited an economy already hemorrhaging millions of jobs. In fact, while the recession impacted men and women differently by virtue of the fact that male-dominated industries like manufacturing were hit first, with jobs in which women are more heavily represented impacted later, men suffered the heaviest job losses in the recession. They also started earlier on the road to recovery, as Republican-favored trimming of the public sector continues to disproportionately impact women.

“Poverty,” “Unemployment,” And “Fading Hopes” Are Legacies Of The Bush Recession

Recession Officially Ran From December 2007 To June 2009, Making It The Longest Since World War II. From the National Bureau of Economic Research: “The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met yesterday by conference call. At its meeting, the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion. The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II. Previously the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-75 and 1981-82, both of which lasted 16 months. In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month.” [, 9/20/10]

  • Recession Resulted In 8.3 Million Job Losses. According to the Associated Press, “the Great Recession killed 8.3 million jobs, compared with 1.6 million lost in the 2001 recession.” [Associated Press via Yahoo! News, 5/4/12]

Bush Recession Was So Severe That Economy Was Still Shedding Over Three-Quarters Of A Million Jobs Per Month Through First Few Months Of President Obama’s Term. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy shed 839,000 jobs in January 2009, 725,000 in February 2009, 787,000 in March 2009, and 802,000 in April 2009, for a four-month average of 788,250 lost jobs per month. [, accessed 5/3/12]

Poverty Rate Jumped Under Bush, Exacerbated By Recession

Poverty Rate Jumped From 11.3 Percent In 2000 To Nearly 13 Percent In President Bush’s Final Year, And Recession Pushed Rate Over 15 Percent. From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “By 2010, the number of people in poverty had risen by 8.9 million since 2007, the last year before the economy turned down. These numbers largely reflect the struggling labor market. […] Adding to this gloomy picture is the fact that the poverty rate has increased significantly in seven of the last ten years, including most of the years from 2001 to 2007, a time when the overall economy was growing (see Figure 1). For the poverty rate to be higher at the peak year of an economic recovery (2007) than in the last year of the previous recession (2001) is unprecedented (and adds to the evidence that the economic growth of that period was not widely shared). Thus, even before the recession began, a growing number of Americans were already being left behind by the economy.


[, 9/14/11, citations removed, emphasis added]

Women’s Poverty Rate Has Always Been Above Men’s, And They Followed Same Trajectory Over Recession. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the following chart illustrates the respective poverty rates for men and women between 1966 and 2010:


[, Historical Poverty Table 7, accessed 7/11/12]

As A Percentage, The Male Poverty Rate Rose More During The Recession Than The Poverty Rate for Women. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the male poverty rate in 2007 was 11.1 percent, rising to 14.0 percent in 2010. That’s a rise of 2.9 percentage points. The female poverty rate was 13.8 in 2007, rising to 16.2 percent in 2010. That’s a rise of 2.4 percentage points. [, Historical Poverty Table 7, accessed 7/11/12]

Percentage Of Single Mothers In Poverty Rose More Under President Bush Than President Obama. From “[Romney senior adviser Ed] Gillespie again relies on the number of single mothers in poverty rather than the rate of poverty, when he says that there has been “a 14 percent increase since President Obama took office.” The rate has climbed from 28.7 percent in 2008 (Bush’s last year in office) to 31.6 percent in 2010, an increase of 2.9 percentage points. By comparison, during the eight years under Bush –  Gillespie’s former boss — the rate rose from a record low of 25.4 percent in 2000 to 28.7 percent in 2008, a rise of 3.3 percentage points.” [, 5/1/12]

The Recession Hit Women Later Than Men, And Late Losses Did Not Result From Obama’s Policies

Recession Job Losses Followed Different Path For Men And Women, With Men Losing Jobs Earlier. From “[M]en took a bigger hit than women, and the decline in jobs for men began much earlier. The downturn in male employment began in May 2007 — a full seven months before the official start (in December 2007) of what became the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Female employment continued to rise for 10 months after the downturn in male employment, and it peaked in March 2008. By the time Obama took office in January 2009, both male and female employment were in a steep decline that continued for over a year. Male employment hit bottom in February 2010, and female employment continued to slump for another seven months, bottoming out in September 2010. And as the chart clearly shows, the job recovery for women not only started later, the rate of recovery has been slower.” prepared the following chart illustrating jobs for men and women between May 2007 and January 2012:


[, 4/12/12]

Men Lost Jobs Early Because Industries Like Construction Were Hit First, With Jobs Like Teaching Affected Later. From “‘If you look back to the start of the recession, many of the industries (construction and manufacturing) that were very hard hit initially were male-dominated,’ said Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, in an interview with It wasn’t until later that jobs like retail and government jobs, particularly teaching jobs, began to take a hit, affecting women more, Dorfman said. Those jobs have been slower to recover.” [, 4/12/12]

Bush Economist: Obama Policies Have Not Been Disproportionately Hard On Women’s Employment. From “Men have fared worse in the recession, [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor under George W. Bush] said, mainly because industries such as construction and manufacturing – male-dominated industries – have been harder hit than education and health care – female-dominated sectors. Furchtgott-Roth said she couldn’t think of any Obama policies that have led to a slower recovery for women. ‘Obama’s policies have been anti-growth,’ she said. ‘But if anything, they have been anti-male jobs.’” [, 4/12/12]

GOP-Favored Government Cuts Affect Women More Than Men

Since The Recession Ended In June 2009, The Private Sector Has Added 3.2 Million Jobs While Public-Sector Employment Has Fallen By Over 600,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 107,933,000 private-sector jobs in June 2009, and 111,145,000 private-sector jobs in June 2012, an increase of 3,212,000 jobs. The BLS also reports that there were 22,570,000 Americans working in the public sector in June 2009, and 21,943,000 working in the public sector in June 2012, a decrease of 627,000 jobs. [, accessed 7/6/12;, accessed 7/6/12;, 9/20/10]

  • GOP-Favored “Government Downsizing” Has Been “A Drag” On Job Growth. From the Associated Press: “Conservative Republicans have long clamored for government downsizing. They’re starting to get it — by default. Crippled by plunging tax revenues, state and local governments have shed over a half million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. And, after adding jobs early in the downturn, the federal government is now cutting them as well. States cut 49,000 jobs over the past year and localities 210,000, according to an analysis of Labor Department statistics. There are 30,000 fewer federal workers now than a year ago — including 5,300 Postal Service jobs canceled last month. By contrast, private-sector jobs have increased by 1.6 million over the past 12 months. But the state, local and federal job losses have become a drag on efforts to nudge the nation’s unemployment rate down.” [Associated Press, 10/25/11]

Women And African Americans “Disproportionately Affected By State And Local Government Budget Cuts.” From the Economic Policy Institute: “The Great Recession created tremendous hardship for millions of Americans. One aspect of this recession and its aftermath has been particularly damaging for women and African Americans: the decision by many state and local governments to respond to diminished revenues and budget shortfalls by cutting public-sector jobs. Because women and African Americans have historically been overrepresented in public-sector employment, they have been disproportionately affected by state and local government budget cuts.” [, 5/2/12]

Women Comprised 70 Percent Of State And Local Government Job Losses Between 2007 And 2011. From the Economic Policy Institute: “The disproportionate share of women and African Americans working in state and local government has translated into higher rates of job loss for both groups in these sectors. Between 2007 (before the recession) and 2011, state and local governments shed about 765,000 jobs. Women and African Americans comprised about 70 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of those losses.” [, 5/2/12]

[NARRATOR:] Some people say there’s a war on women. We agree. It’s a war being waged in our economy. Under President Obama, the number of women in poverty has skyrocketed, hit hardest in every poverty-related category. Seventeen million women now in poverty, 800,000 more than when Obama took office. 7.5 million women in extreme poverty. Four out of ten female-headed families stuck in poverty. The poverty rate for Hispanic women growing faster than any other group to 25 percent, and two-and-a-half million women over 65 are impoverished too. And the job market in Obama’s economy? Women aren’t faring as well as other groups. During Obama’s so-called recovery, women have lost jobs even as men have gained them. In fact, men are gaining four times as many jobs as women, and over three-quarters of a million more women are unemployed. Poverty. Unemployment. Fading hopes. That’s not the change we voted for. There is a war on women in America, and it’s hurting real women every day. We just can’t afford another four years. [American Crossroads via, 7/11/12]