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Women in the Labor Force in 2006

  • Of the 118 million women age 16 years and over in the U.S., 70 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.

  • The Labor Force participation rate for all women was 59.4 percent in 2006. Black women, 61.7 percent; white women, 59.0 percent; Asian women, 58.3 percent; and hispanic women, 56.1 percent.

  • There were a record 67 million employed women in the U.S.

  • The largest percentage of employed women (38%) worked in management, professional, and related occupations; 34% 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 (46% and 39%, respectively) worked in management, professional, and related occupations. For black and Hispanic women, it was sales and office occupations--32% and 33%, respectively.

  • The unemployment rate for both women and men was 4.6%.

  • The unemployment rate, however, varied substantially among female racial groups: Asian women, 3.1%; white women, 4.0%; Hispanic women, 5.9%; and black women, 8.4%.

  • The median weekly earnings of women who were full-time wage and salary workers was $600, or 81 percent of men’s $743. When comparing the median weekly earnings of persons aged 16 to 24, young women earned 94% of what young men earned ($395 and $418, respectively).
  • The ten occupations with the highest median weekly earnings among women who were full-time wage and salary workers were
  1. Pharmacists, $1,564;
  2. Chief executives, $1,422;
  3. Lawyers, $1,333;
  4. Physicians and surgeons, $1,329;
  5. Computer and information systems managers, $1,300;
  6. Computer software engineers, $1,272;
  7. Physical therapists, $1,086;
  8. Management analysts, $1069
  9. Medical and health services managers, $1,064; and
  10. Computer scientist and systems analysts $1039
  • Women accounted for 51% 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; property, real estate, and social and community service managers; preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers; and registered nurses.

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

  • Of persons aged 25 years and older, 27% of women and men had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher; 32% of women and 29% of men had completed only 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, 33.2% were labor force participants; high school diploma, no college, 53.8%; some college, but no degree, 64.0%; associate degree, 71.2%; and bachelor’s degree or higher, 73.1%.
  • For women age 25 and over with less than a high school diploma, their unemployment rate was 7.9%; high school diploma, no college, 4.3%; some college, but no degree, 4.3%; associate degree, 3.1%; and bachelor’s degree or higher, 2.1%.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, 2006 Annual Averages and the Monthly Labor Review, November 2005.