The US Workforce Now Employs More Female Than Male Workers

According to the latest jobs report in the US, women now outnumber men in the workforce for the first time since the end of the Great Recession. The Labor Department data revealed that women held 50.04% of jobs in December 2019 bringing their share of the workforce to 76.2 million and women also gained 139,000 jobs in the same time period as compared to 6000 jobs that men gained. In spite of there being a slow job growth in the country since US employers only added 145,000, this report definitely came as a surprise. Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan economist who served in the Obama administration, said, “I feel very strongly that a year from now, their share will continue to be over 50%.”

Women comprise a majority in some of the most important domains of occupation like education, healthcare, and hospitality

“That’s what the U.S. does. We’re a service-sector economy. The service sector is really broad. It’s not just about serving coffee or taking care of children,” added Stevenson. And although the numbers of women have been on the increase in the service sector, people have been greatly underestimating the fact that women comprise a majority in some of the most important domains of occupation like education, healthcare, and hospitality, for example. On the other hand, however, the number of women in male-dominated sectors like manufacturing and mining have declined. Unfortunately, this means that the US will keep on adding jobs in areas where women have been dominating but also means that women will continue working in lower-wage professions. Megan Greene, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, said, “If we’re adding most of our jobs at the low end of the pay scale, we’re not getting much upward pressure on wages. And that’s I think why wages have been so frustratingly low in this recovery.” 

Women need to find their way to break into predominantly male-dominated roles

It is amazing to see that women are making such great strides in the workforce, however, some economists have revealed that this could also mean that more women are working from a very young age and the lack of policies for working mothers might play a role. For long, women have been outdoing men in the realm of education and now while they are beating them in their numbers in the workforce, women need to find their way to break into predominantly male-dominated roles. This is the area that needs to be changed so that women will be able to make their mark in fields that really need a different perspective, like science and technology for example. However, this also means that female-dominated occupations need to get the respect it deserves. Katherine Moose, a teacher of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is a member of PERI, the Political Economy Research Institute, said, “ I mean, as the population ages, we have greater healthcare needs. As we make expansions in education, we need to hire more teachers. But I do think that the point about what is the prestige level of these jobs is an important one. I don’t know that there’s a loss in prestige. I think there’s this sort of continual issue in terms of getting the respect and the prestige and the high pay that these jobs really do deserve, so I think it’s more of a persistent problem than losing prestige.”

Image credit: TheJournal.ie

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