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Projections show women likely won't make up half of workforce as participation declines

Projections show women likely won't make up half of workforce as participation declines

According to Pew Research Center, women's participation in the work force has plateaued just shy of 50 percent after decades of growth.

After decades of strong gains, the share of women in the U.S. labor force has plateaued in recent years. Recently released projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that the female share of the labor force will peak at 47.1% in 2025 and then taper off to 46.3% by 2060, meaning that women will remain a minority of the labor force.

Since the 1950's, women have been a quickly growing part of the labor force in the United States, growing three times faster than men in the 1960's alone, with a growth rate of 3.1 percent to men's 1.0 percent. By the time the year 2000 rolled around, 57.7 percent of women were in the work force, up from 37.7 percent in the 60's.

However, participation slowed in the 90's, and by the turn of the century participation began to decline for both men and women. This doesn't just include retirees. Women aged 25 - 54 are appearing less and less in the work force as well. The reason, says Pew, is likely due to the increase in single women attending school, and lower income women with children not working at all.

Mothers with children younger than 18 are less likely to participate in the labor force now than they were in 2000, particularly less-educated mothers. Some researchers have suggested this may be due in part to changing gender role attitudes. Women without children under 18 and single women are also less likely to participate than they were in the 1990s. The withdrawal of single women from the labor force in part reflects that more of them are going to school.

Sadly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that both men and women will see their gender decline in workforce participation over the coming years, expecting to only grow by 0.5% per year.

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