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12 Stats About Working Women

By Mark DeWolf  March 1, 2017

This Women’s History Month, we’re taking a look at women’s contributions to the U.S. labor force.  Here are some noteworthy statistics we’ve rounded up!

Women are Integral to Today’s Workforce

There are 74.6 million women in the civilian labor force.

Almost 47 percent of U.S. workers are women.

More than 39 percent of women work in occupations where women make up at least three-quarters of the workforce.

Women own close to 10 million businesses, accounting for $1.4 trillion in receipts.

Female veterans tend to continue their service in the labor force: About 3 out of 10 serve their country as government workers.

Working Moms are the Norm

Seventy percent of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force, with over 75 percent employed full-time.

Mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under 18 today, compared with 11 percent in 1960.

Trends in Women’s Employment Have Evolved over Time

Women’s participation in the U.S. labor force has climbed since WWII: from 32.7 percent in 1948 to 56.8 percent in 2016.

The proportion of women with college degrees in the labor force has almost quadrupled since 1970. More than 40 percent of women in the labor force had college degrees in 2016, compared with 11 percent in 1970.

The range of occupations women workers hold has also expanded, with women making notable gains in professional and managerial occupations. In 2016, more than one in three lawyers was a woman compared to fewer than 1 in 10 in 1974.

Despite these gains, women are still underrepresented in STEM occupations, with women’s share of computer workers actually declining since 1990.

The unemployment rate for women is currently 4.8 percent, down from a peak of 9.0 percent in November 2010. (Source)

Since 1920, the Women’s Bureau has been working to address the challenges and barriers unique to women in the labor force, and data plays an important role in helping us understand those challenges. For more of the latest stats on working women, be sure to check out our data and statistics page.

Mark DeWolf is an economist with the department’s Women’s Bureau.

 

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