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News

Female Workforce Participation Rate at All-Time High

By:
S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
May 24, 2023

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The percentage of women aged 25 to 54 who are employed or searching for work is now at a record high, Bloomberg reported.

That rate, 77.5 percent in April, is the highest since this measurement began in 1948, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The numbers demonstrate a recovery from the pandemic-induced “she-cession,” in which millions of women lost their jobs or left the workforce to care for loved ones.

“We have gotten back to the best that women had ever done historically,” said labor economist Kathryn Anne Edwards.

“We’ve had unquestionably a very strong recovery,” said Beth Almeida, a labor economist and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “And when there are lots of jobs available, people step up to take them.”

The CEO of Workforce Solutions Capital Area in Austin, Tamara Atkinson, told Bloomberg that more jobs and better pay have lured women back to the workforce, while Pamela Nabors, president and CEO of CareerSource Central Florida, said that many more women have had to reenter the job search process due to the reduction in pandemic-era aid.

The rise of remote and hybrid work is also a factor, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland economist Lara Loewenstein told Bloomberg.

At the same time, participation among women 55 and older has been stuck near pandemic-era lows. Bloomberg suggested one reason for that disparity: Older women continue to make sacrifices to help keep their younger family members in the workforce.

Almeida said that rising education levels among women also matter, as college-educated women are often able to obtain higher-paying jobs that allow them to afford child care.

“Without underlying change in work-family policy and child care availability, I kind of doubt that we will see further increases,” Cornell University economist Francine Blau told Bloomberg.