Women in the Labor Force

In 2007, 59.4 percent of women aged 16 and older were in the labor force (either employed or unemployed and actively seeking employment). This represents a 37 percent increase from the 43.3 percent of women who were in the labor force in 1970.1 In 2006, females accounted for 46.5 percent of workers, while males accounted for 53.5 percent.

The representation of females in the labor force varies greatly by occupational sector. In 2006, women accounted for 63.1 percent of sales and office workers, but only 3.5 percent of construction, extraction, maintenance, and repair workers. Other positions which were more commonly held by women than men included service jobs (56.5 percent) and management, professional, and related jobs (51.1 percent). Women were the minority in production, transportation, and material moving (23.2 percent); farming, fishing, and forestry (20.3 percent); and in the military (14.6 percent). In 2006, a total of 165,231 women were on active duty in the armed services.

Women are disproportionately represented among lower-income workers. Among workers aged 16 and older, more than 55 percent of those earning less than $25,000 per year were women, while 69 percent of those earning more than $50,000 per year were men (data not shown).

Annual earnings by women aged 16 and older vary greatly by race and ethnicity. In 2006, 24.4 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander women earned more than $50,000, compared to 8.4 and 8.5 percent of Hispanic and American Indian/ Alaska Native women, respectively. The proportion of female workers earning less than $25,000 ranged from 68.2 percent of Hispanic women to 47.7 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders. More than half of Black, non-Hispanic White, and American Indian/Alaska Native women earned less than $25,000.

1 U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2007.

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