Population Characteristics

Women in the Labor Force

In 2004, 59.2 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. Females aged 16 and older made up 46.4 percent of the workforce in 2004.1 Among working females, 74 percent worked full-time, compared to 89 percent of males.2

The representation of females in the labor force varies greatly by occupational sector. In 2004, women composed over 60 percent of sales and office workers, but only 1.3 percent of construction, extraction, and maintenance workers. Other positions which are more commonly held by women than men include services jobs (56.2 percent) and management, professional, and related jobs (50.4 percent). Women are the minority in production, transportation, and moving (23.1 percent), farming, fishing, and forestry (19.6 percent), and military (17.4 percent).

Earnings by women and men also vary greatly. Women represent a majority of earners making less than $25,000 per year. Of earners making less than $2,500 per year, 58.4 percent were women in 2004; however, women represented only 19.1 percent of earners making $100,000 or more per year. The difference between womenís and menís earnings is larger among older than younger workers. For instance, women aged 45-54 earned 73 cents for every dollar earned by males aged 45-54, while women aged 16-24 earned 94 cents for every dollar earned by males of the same age.

1 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Women in the Labor Force: A Databook, Report 985, Table 2. Employment status of the civilian noninstitutionalized population 16 years and over by sex, 1970-2004 annual averages. May 2005 at http://www.bls.gov/cps/wlf-table2-2005.pdf

2 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Employment and Earnings, Table 8: Employed and unemployed full- and part-time workers by age, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. January 2005 at http://www.bls.gov/cps/home.htm#annual

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.