U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Women in the Labor Force

In 2007, 58.6 percent of women aged 16 and older were in the labor force (either employed or not employed and actively seeking employment). This represents a 35 percent increase from the 43.3 percent of women who were in the labor force in 1970.1 In 2007, females accounted for 46.6 percent of workers, while males accounted for 53.4 percent (data not shown).

The representation of females in the labor force varies greatly by occupational sector. In 2007, women accounted for 62.9 percent of sales and office workers, but only 3.4 percent of construction, extraction, and maintenance workers. Other positions which were more commonly held by women than men included service jobs (56.4 percent) and management, professional, and related jobs (51.2 percent). Women were the minority in production, transportation, and material moving (22.8 percent); farming, fishing, and forestry (20.5 percent); and in the military (14.3 percent). In 2007, a total of 200,337 women were on active duty in the armed services.

Overall, in 2007 there was a large discrepancy between the annual median earnings of women and men working full-time ($34,103 versus $44,250, respectively), and this discrepancy existed within each occupational sector. Men’s median earnings were approximately 40 percent higher than women’s in management and professional; service; and production, transportation, and material moving occupations. The smallest disparity was evident in the construction, extraction, and maintenance occupational sector: men’s median earnings were only 7.4 percent higher than women’s.

The percentage of women working full-time has steadily increased in recent years. In 2007, 75.3 percent of employed women were working full-time, compared to 74.4 percent in 2003 (data not shown).2

1 U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2007.
2 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. [online] http://www.bls.gov/cps/tables.htm#empstat, accessed 12/15/08.

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