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Women in the Labor Force in 2005

  • Of the 117 million women age 16 years and over in the U.S., 69 million (almost 60%) were labor force participants—working or looking for work.

  • Women comprised 46% of the total U.S. labor force and are projected to account for 47% of the labor force in 2014.

  • Women are projected to account for 51% of the increase in total labor force growth between 2004 and 2014.

  • There were a record 66 million employed women in the U.S.

  • The largest percentage of employed women (38%) worked in management, professional, and related occupations; 35% worked in sales and office occupations; 20% in service occupations; 6% in production, transportation, and material moving occupations; and 1% in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations.

  • The largest percentage of employed Asian and white women (44% and 39%, respectively) worked in management, professional, and related occupations. For black and Hispanic women, it was sales and office occupations--both at 33%.

  • The unemployment rate for both women and men was 5.1%.

  • The unemployment rate, however, varied substantially among female racial groups: Asian women, 3.9%; white women, 4.4%; Hispanic women, 6.9%; and black women, 9.5%.

  • The median weekly earnings of women who were full-time wage and salary workers were $585, or 81 percent of men’s $722. When comparing the median weekly earnings of persons aged 16 to 24, young women earned 93% of what young men earned ($381 and $409, respectively).
  • The ten occupations with the highest median weekly earnings among women who were full-time wage and salary workers were
    • Pharmacists, $1,483;
    • Chief executives, $1,413;
    • Lawyers, $1,354;
    • Computer software engineers, $1,174;
    • Physicians and surgeons, $1,134;
    • Computer and information systems managers, $1,094;
    • Medical and health services managers, $1,026;
    • Computer programmers, $1,014;
    • Physical therapists, $1,014; and
    • Human resource managers, $998
  • Women accounted for 50% of all workers in the high-paying management, professional, and related occupations. They outnumbered men in such occupations as financial managers; human resource managers; education administrators; medical and health services managers; accountants and auditors; budget analysts; loan counselors and officers; property, real estate, and community association managers; social and community service managers; preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers; and registered nurses.

  • 75% of employed women worked on full-time jobs, while 25% worked on a part-time basis.

  • Of persons aged 25 years and older, 27% of women had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 29% of men. 32% of both, women and men, had completed high school, no college.
  • The higher a person’s educational attainment, the more likely they will be a labor force participant (working or looking for work) and the less likely they will be unemployed.
  • For women age 25 and over with less than a high school diploma, 32.9% were labor force participants; high school diploma, no college, 53.8%; some college, but no degree, 63.9%; associate degree, 71.9%; and bachelor’s degree or higher, 72.9%.

  • For women age 25 and over with less than a high school diploma, their unemployment rate was 9.7%; high school diploma, no college, 4.8%; some college, but no degree, 4.5%; associate degree, 3.3%; and bachelor’s degree or higher, 2.4%.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, 2005 Annual Averages and the Monthly Labor Review, November 2005.