Discuss as:

FACT CHECK: Romney incorrect on women's jobs at debate

Jim Young / Reuters

Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney steps off his campaign plane in Newark, New Jersey, October 18, 2012.

Both campaigns are wooing women after the debate, including the Mitt Romney campaign launching a bus tour in Iowa with women who worked with the Republican presidential nominee. But at the debate, Romney said the following: "In the last four years, women have lost 580,000 jobs.”

There are several ways to look at this. But the bottom line is Romney’s count is incorrect. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of payroll jobs held by women -- from February 2009, the first full month President Barack Obama was in office -- has declined by 82,000 jobs.

Even if calculated from January, the number is 283,000 jobs, not 580,000. Romney was likely using an outdated figure based on data from March when the GOP primary was wrapping up. Calculating from January 2009 to March 2012, the number is about 583,000 jobs lost. But, of course, January wasn't Obama's first month on the job, not to mention the economy was in free fall.

The numbers are based on the BLS survey of businesses, which report their payroll. This is the survey BLS uses to say if jobs were gained or lost. 

Women are the voters being targeted by both the Obama and Romney campaigns, which have both unveiled new ads on abortion. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.

Additionally, the data does not yet reflect the adjustment that BLS will make after the election -- but which has already been announced -- that will add approximately 386,000 jobs, according to Gary Steinberg, press officer at BLS.

(The adjustment comes from BLS comparing data it had from the survey of businesses with a more universal report with harder numbers -- a business Census, if you will -- in which businesses around the country send in their payroll numbers).

What’s more, if you look at the survey of workers, more women say they work for money now than they did in February 2009 (see chart 2 below).

And the share of women in the workforce is essentially unchanged with a slight decrease (see charts 3 and 4). The reason for this, according to Steinberg: At the outset of the recession, men were hit harder because of the types of jobs they held in manufacturing and the like. Now, men are also getting jobs back at a higher rate because of that fact and growth in manufacturing as the economy recovers. 

1. #of payroll jobs held by women

Feb. 2009: 65,921,000
Sept. 2012: 65,839,000

Net change: 82,000 jobs lost

2. # of women who say they’re employed – (women who say they worked for pay)

Feb. 2009: 66,916,000 employed
Sept. 2012: 67,222,000 employed

3. Total # of jobs in the U.S. economy

Feb. 2009: 132,837,000 total payroll jobs in the U.S. economy. Of those, women held 65,921,000, or 49.6%
Sept. 2012: 133,500,000 total payroll jobs in the U.S. economy. Of those, women hold 65,839,000, or 49.3%

4. Of those employed, the share of women has slightly increased since Feb. 2009.

Feb. 2009: 141,660,000  employed, of those 66,916,000, or 47.2%
Sept. 2012: 142,974,000 employed, of those 67,222,000 are women, or 47%