Women in the U.S. Workforce

A declining share of American women are working.

June 22, 2016

A declining share of American women are working.

1. In 1999, the labor force participation rate for U.S. women peaked at 77%. By mid-2015, that number had dropped to 73.5%.

2. Most European nations have experienced the opposite trend. They have seen incremental annual increases in the labor participation rates of women.

3. 14 European OECD members – including Germany, the largest – have at least 82% of women involved in the workforce.

4. The United Kingdom has a female labor participation rate of 80% — over six percentage points higher than the U.S. rate.

5. In fact, the U.S. labor force participation rate for women as of mid-2015 was higher than only six of the 34 advanced economies of the OECD.

6. Many women are also performing uncompensated labor as caregivers and homemakers.

7. Worldwide, UN data suggest women perform three-quarters of all unpaid labor hours each day.

8. More than 50% of married couples in the United States have both partners working.

9. In a departure from former employment patterns, fewer than a quarter of married couples only have a husband in the labor force.

10. 9% of married U.S. women earned at least $30,000 more than their husbands. (There are only several hundred thousand same-sex married couples in the United States.)

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, UN Women, Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Globalist Research Center

Takeaways

Most European nations have seen annual increases in the labor participation rates of women.

More than 50% of married couples in the United States have both partners working.

U.S. labor force participation rate for women as of mid-2015 was higher than only six of the 34 OECD economies.