Gender Employment Equality Still a Few Yrs. Away
USA Today (September 3, 2009)-- Women are on the verge of outnumbering men in the workforce for the first time, a historic reversal caused by long-term changes in women's roles and massive job losses for men during this recession. Women held 49.83% of the nation's 132 million jobs in June and they're gaining the vast majority of jobs in the few sectors of the economy that are growing, according to the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That's a record high for a measure that's been growing steadily for decades and accelerating during the recession. At the current pace, women will become a majority of workers in October or November.
Center for American Progress -- Women are now half of workers on U.S. payrolls, according to USA Today. This is an important new trend in the U.S. economy and a stunning transformation from a generation ago. In 1970, women made up 43.8% of workers, while in July 2009 (the latest data available), women held 49.9% of all jobs.
Although women are now half of all workers, they are not half of workers in all kinds of jobs. Thus, while the news that women are half the workers is a marker on the long path toward equality, it is also a testimony about the current economic malaise.
MP: Actually the reports about women being a majority of workers, or even half of American workers is not quite accurate. It's partly true - if you look only at payroll employment (nonfarm wage and salary jobs), currently about 131 million workers, and ignore about 8 million workers who are included in the more comprehensive household employment data of about 139 million workers (current BLS data here, historical data here), which includes self-employed and agricultural workers.
According to the more comprehensive measure of employment from household data, there is still a 5.4% difference between male employment (52.7%) and female employment (47.3%). And although women's share of total jobs has increased, it's been fairly constant and gradual, increasing by only 1% over the 15-year period from 1995 (46.3% of total jobs) to 2009 (47.3% of total jobs).
I'm not sure this is really monumental in its significance, but is probably somewhat important in pointing out the difference between payroll employment and household data employment. If complete gender employment equality is somehow significant or important, it won't happen for a few more years at least, according to household survey employment measures.