This paper examines how gender, racial, and ethnic differentials in unemployment and Unemployment Insurance (UI) receipt have changed over the past 50 years. The primary analysis focuses on the degree to which such differences, in the past 20 years, are explained by differences in the industrial and occupational structure of employment. Using Current Population Survey (CPS) data, the report finds that: (1) the female unemployment rate has converged to the male unemployment rate since the 1980s, (2) the nonwhite and Hispanic unemployment rates are converging to the unemployment rate of the rest of the population, but racial and ethnic unemployment rate gaps have not yet been eliminated, and (3) the U.S. labor market has experienced significant shifts in its industrial and occupational distribution.
To examine how gender, racial, and ethnic differences in the unemployment experience are affected by differences in the primary industries and occupations in which each group is employed, the 1992-2007 CPS March supplement data was used. The analysis shows that, when controlling for industry and occupation differences: (1) women have higher unemployment rates than men but are equally likely to receive UI benefits, (2) the racial unemployment rate gap is smaller than in earlier years but remains substantial, yet nonwhites are only marginally more likely to receive UI benefits than whites, and (3) there is a dramatic convergence in the unemployment rates between Hispanics and non-Hispanics, although Hispanics remain less likely to receive UI benefits.