Skip to page content
Women's Bureau
Bookmark and Share

Employment Status of Women and Men in 2008

CIVILIAN NON-INSTITUTIONAL POPULATION (persons aged 16 years or older): 233,788,000 total persons of which 120,675,000 were women and 113,113,000 were men. The three largest race/ethnic groups in the U.S. were whites, Hispanics, and blacks.

Table 1
Population, Persons 16 and over, by Race and Sex, 1998 and 2008

Total population in 1998: 205,220,000
Total population in 2008: 233,788,000
Percent Increase, 13.9 percent

Total Women in 1998: 106,462,000
Total Women in 2008: 102,675,000
Percent Increase: 13.4 percent

Total Men in 1998: 98,758,000
Total Men in 2008: 113,113,000
Percent Increase: 14.5 percent

Racial Groups
White women in 1998: 88,126,000
White women in 2008: 96,814,000
Percent Increase: 9.9 percent

White men in 1998: 83,352,000
White men in 2008: 92,725,000
Percent Increase: 11.2 percent

Hispanic women in 1998: 10,335,000
Hispanic women in 2008: 15,616,000
Percent Increase: 51.1 percent

Hispanic men in 1998: 10,734,000
Hispanic men in 2008: 16,524,000
Percent Increase: 53.9 percent

Black women in 1998: 13,446,000
Black women in 2008: 15,328,000
Percent Increase, 14.0 percent

Black men in 1998: 10,927,000
Black men in 2008: 12,516,000
Percent Increase: 14.5 percent

Asian women in 1998: Not available
Asian women in 2008: 5,639,000
Percent Increase: ---

Asian men in 1998: Not available
Asian men in 2008: 5,112,000
Percent Increase: ---

  • For persons aged 16 to 19, men represented 51 percent and women represented 49 percent; for ages 20 to 24 and 25 to 34, men and women comprised 50 percent. Men were more prevalent in the younger age groups. In the remaining major age groups (35 to 44, 45 to 54, 55 to 64, and 65 and older), women outnumbered men.
  • 37.2 percent of persons aged 16–19 were either Hispanic; black; or Asian in 2008.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, Annual Averages 1998 and 2008.

CIVILIAN LABOR FORCE—Persons aged 16 and over who are working or looking for work.

  • Total labor force—154.3 million persons of which 71,767,000 were women and 82,520,000 were men.

  • Women made up 46.5 percent of the total civilian labor force in 2008.

Table 2
Persons in Civilian Labor Force, by Race and Sex, 1998 and 2008

Total population; 1998, 137,673,000; 2008, 154,287,000; Percent Increase, 12.1

Women in 1998: 63,714,000;
Women in 2008: 71,767,000;
Percent Increase: 12.6 percent

Men in 1998: 73,959,000
Men in 2008: 82,520,000
Percent Increase: 11.6 percent

White women in 1998: 52,380,000
White women in 2008, 57,284,000
Percent Increase: 9.4 percent

White men in 1998: 63,034,000
White men in 2008: 68,351,000
Percent Increase: 8.4 percent

Black women in 1998: 8,441,000
Black women in 2008: 9,393,000
Percent Increase: 11.3 percent

Black men in 1998: 7,542,000
Black men in 2008: 8,347,000
Percent Increase: 12.2 percent

Hispanic women in 1998: 5,746,000
Hispanic women in 2008: 8,769,000
Percent Increase: 52.6 percent

Hispanic men in 1998: 8,571,000
Hispanic men in 2008: 13,225,000
Percent Increase: 54.3 percent

Asian women in 1998: Not available
Asian women in 2008, 3,350,000
Percent Increase: ---

Asian men in 1998: Not available
Asian men in 2008: 3,852,000
Percent Increase: ---

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, Annual Averages 1998 and 2008.

LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE—the percent of persons in the labor force as compared with the number of persons in the population.

  • In 2008, 6 out of every 10 women aged 16 and over were labor force participants, compared with 7 out of 10 men.
  • 59.5 percent of all women were in the labor force.
  • 73.0 percent of all men were in the labor force.

Table 3
Labor Force Participation Rates by sex and race, 2007

White women: 59.2 percent
White men: 73.7 percent
Black women: 61.3 percent
Black men: 66.7 percent
Hispanic women: 56.2 percent
Hispanic men: 80.2 percent
Asian women: 59.4 percent
Asian men: 75.3 percent

  • Sixty-three percent (63 percent) of women age 16 and over with children under age 6 were in the labor force in March 2007 (up from 57 percent in March 1987).
  • Sixty percent (60 percent) of women age 16 and over with children under age 3 were in the labor force in March 2007 (up from 53 percent in March 1987).

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, Annual Averages 2008 and the Current Population Survey, Annual Social Economic Tables, March 1988 and 2007.

EMPLOYMENT and UNEMPLOYMENT—67,876,000 women were employed as compared with 77,486,000 men; 3,196,000 women were unemployed compared with 5,033,000 unemployed men.

  • Between 1990 and 2008, total U.S. employment grew 22 percent--from 118.8 to 145.4 million persons; between 1980 and 2008, total U.S. employment grew 46 percent--from 99.3 to 146.0 million persons.
  • Over the past decade (1998-2008), roughly 14 million jobs have been created. Women secured slightly more than half of these jobs (51.1 percent).
  • Multiple job holders totaled 7.6 million in 2008—3.8 million women; 3.8 million men.
  • Of all multiple job holders, over half, 4.2 million (55 percent) were in married couples; 2.1 million (27 percent) were single (never married); and 1.4 million (18 percent) were widowed, divorced, or separated.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, Annual Averages 2008 and Annual Social Economic Tables, March 1996 and 2006.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE--the percent of unemployed persons in the labor force as compared to the number of persons in the labor force.

  • The unemployment rate for women was 5.4 percent in 2008; 6.1 percent for men. The unemployment rate for teen women (ages 16-19) was 16.2 percent; for teen men, 21.2 percent.

Table 4
2008 Unemployment Rates, by sex and race

White women: 4.9 percent
White men: 5.5 percent
Black women: 8.9 percent
Black men: 11.4 percent
Hispanic women: 7.7 percent
Hispanic men: 7.6 percent
Asian women: 3.7 percent
Asian men: 4.1 percent

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, Annual Averages 2008.

FULL TIME/PART TIME EMPLOYMENT—Full time--working 35 hours or more per week; Part time—working less than 35 hours per week. 17% of U.S. workers had part time jobs in 2008.

  • Part-time vs. full-time workers: 24.6 percent of employed women worked part time in 2008 as compared with 11.1 percent of men. Part-time employment is working less than 35 hours per week.
  • 120 million Americans worked on full-time jobs while 25 million Americans worked on part-time jobs in 2008.
  • 51.2 million or 75.4 percent of employed women worked full time; 16.7 million or 24.6 percent of employed women worked part time.
  • 68.8 million or 88.9 percent of employed men worked full time; 8.6 million or 11.1 percent of employed men worked part time.
  • Women comprised two-thirds of all part-time workers—16.7 million workers out of 25 million.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, Annual Averages 2008.

OCCUPATIONS-- In 2008, for women who were full-time, wage and salary workers, the ten most prevalent occupations were:

  1. Secretaries and administrative assistants, 3,168,000
  2. Registered nurses, 2,548,000
  3. Elementary and middle school teachers, 2,403,000
  4. Cashiers, 2,287,000
  5. Retail salespersons, 1,783,000
  6. Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, 1,675,000
  7. First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers, 1,505,000
  8. Waiters and waitresses, 1,471,000
  9. Receptionists and information clerks, 1,323,000
  10. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, 1,311,000

Among women who were full-time wage and salary workers, here were the ten occupations with highest median weekly earnings in 2008.

  1. Pharmacists, $1,647
  2. Chief executives, $1,603
  3. Lawyers, $1,509
  4. Computer software engineers, $1,351
  5. Computer and information systems managers, $1,260
  6. Physicians and surgeons, $1,230
  7. Management analysts, $1,139
  8. Human resource managers, $1,137
  9. Speech-language pathologists, $1,124
  10. Computer scientists and systems analysts, $1,082
  • Women accounted for 51 percent of persons employed in the high-paying management, professional, and related occupations category.
  • Women continue to comprise the larger share of workers in these occupational categories: sales and office occupations, 63 percent; and service occupations, 57 percent;
  • Only 4 percent of all natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations and 22 percent of production, transportation, and material moving occupations were held by women.
  • Women made up 45 percent of workers in the public administration industry – federal, state, and local government workers.
  • Self-employed workers: 9.2 million—3.5 million women; and 5.7 million men.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, Annual Averages 2008.

EARNINGS— Money wage or salary income, net income from non-farm self-employment, and net income from farm self-employment. For a more detailed explanation of earnings, please view the Census Bureau’s definition at http://www.census.gov/population/www/cps/cpsdef.html.

  • Median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers in 2008: women, $638; and men, $798.
  • Overall, women earned 80 percent of what men earned when comparing median weekly earnings of all full-time wage and salary workers.

Table 5
Median Weekly Earnings, by sex and race, 2008

White women: $654
White men: $825
Black women: $554
Black men: $620
Hispanic women: $501
Hispanic men: $559
Asian women: $753
Asian men: $966

  • Median yearly earnings for full-time year-round workers was $ 35,102 for women; $45,113 for men and in 2007.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, Annual Averages 2008 and U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, Income,Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007.

PROJECTIONS for YEAR 2016

Labor Force

  • The labor force is estimated to increase by 12.8 million persons between 2006 and 2016; about 6.3 million (49 percent) will be women.
  • In 2016, women are expected to comprise 46.5 percent of the estimated 164.2 million persons in the labor force.

Employment—

  • During the 2006-2016 period, total employment is projected to increase by 10.4 percent from 150.6 to 166.2 million.
  • Over the 2006-2016 period, employment in professional and related occupations is projected to grow at the same rate as employment in service occupations—both at 16.7 percent.
  • Between the 2006-16 period, production occupations are expected to see a loss of slightly more than half a million jobs (528,000).
  • Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations will decline by 29,000 jobs due to increased mechanization, rising imports of food and fish, and consolidation of the agricultural industry.

Occupations: Fastest Growth

  • The fastest growing occupations are dominated by professional and related occupations associated with health care and the provision of social and mental health services. Examples of these occupations are:
    • Health related: personal and home care aides; home health aides; medical assistants; substance abuse and behavior disorder counselors; social and human service assistants; physical therapists assistants; pharmacy technicians; dental hygienists; and mental health counselors; mental health and substance abuse social workers; dental assistants; physical therapists; and physician assistants.
    • Computer related: network systems and data communications analysts; computer software engineers, applications; computer systems analysts; database administrators; and computer software engineers, systems software.
    • Personal care and service related: makeup artists; theatrical and performance; skin care specialists; manicurists and pedicurists.
    • Other fast growing occupations: veterinary technologists and technicians; personal financial advisors; veterinarians; financial analysts; gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators; forensic science technicians; marriage and family therapists; gaming and sports book writers and runners; and environmental science and protection technicians, including health.
  • Rapid growth in health-related occupations reflects an aging population that requires more health care, a wealthier population that can afford better health care, and advances in medical technology that permit more health problems to be treated more aggressively.
  • The fastest growing health-related and personal care occupations are already dominated by women and it stands to reason that women will continue to do so.

Occupations: Largest Growth

  • The 30 occupations with the largest job growth are much less concentrated in professional and related occupations than the 30 fastest growing occupations.
  • Examples of these are:
    • Professional and managerial: registered nurses; general and operations managers; computer software engineers, applications; accountants and auditors; management analysts; computer systems analysts; and network systems and data communications analysts.
    • Service related: retail salespersons; janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners; child care workers; maids and housekeeping cleaners; and security guards.
    • Office and administrative support: office clerks, general; bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks; executive secretaries and administrative assistants; receptionists and information clerks; and customer service representatives.
    • Health care support: home health aides; nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants; personal and home care aides; and medical assistants.
    • Food preparation and serving related: waiters and waitresses; combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food; and food preparation workers.
    • Teaching: post secondary teachers; elementary school teachers, except special education; and teacher assistants.
    • Transportation and material moving: truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer; laborers and freight and stock, and material movers, hand; and truck drivers, light and delivery services.
    • Other: landscaping and grounds keeping workers; carpenters; and maintenance and repair workers, general.
  • Short-term on-the-job training is the level of post-secondary education or training most workers will need to become fully qualified in the majority of these large growth occupations.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, November 2007.