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- Women now outnumber men in the US workforce for the first time since the end of the Great Recession a decade ago.
- Data from the Labor Department’s latest jobs report, released Friday, showed that women made up 50.04% of the workforce and that they gained far more jobs than men in December.
- Experts said that the labor gains for women underscored the growing sectors within the economy that employ women at greater rates, such as healthcare and education.
- But other noted that the share of US working-age women with a job is still lower than in other developed countries, such as Australia.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Women now outnumber men in the American workforce for the first time since the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession, according to the latest jobs report, released on Friday.
Labor Department data showed that women held 50.04% of jobs in December, bringing their share of the workforce to 76.2 million. Women gained 139,000 jobs compared with the 6,000 that men obtained in the same period.
The last time women made up the majority of the workforce was a ten-month stretch from June 2009 to April 2010, as the economy shed jobs at a breakneck pace in sectors that employed mostly men, like manufacturing.
Experts said the gains for women reflected the growing industries that employ women at greater rates.
“The sectors that are growing, like education and health care, are predominantly women’s employment,” Ariane Hegewisch, the program director of employment and earnings at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told The Wall Street Journal. “Looking at the 21st century, it is really amazing how profound some of the [sex] segregation is in the labor market.”
Still, others noted that the number of working-age women with a job in the US remained lower than in other advanced economies. Ernie Tedeschi, a former Treasury Department economist, said in a tweet that a lack of benefits for working mothers might play a role.
“Employment of prime-age women in the US however, which once led the world, has fallen behind our peer countries,” Tedeschi said. “There are a lot of factors at work, but research has pointed to our relatively weak family-friendly policies in the US as a major one.”
A report from the International Monetary Fund in April 2018 found that Australia, Canada, Japan, and many European nations had leaped ahead of the United States in the proportion of women with jobs.
A gap still exists between the labor-force participation rate for women and for men in the United States, a measurement of the share of people who are working or trying to find a job. In December, the rate stood at 57.7% for women and 69.2% for men. A significant wage gap remains as well.
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