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Charts of the week: women’s economic growth and participation

Chris McKenna

In a new e-book, the Hamilton Project at Brookings  analyzed the current state of women in the American workforce, and proposed policies that could lead to better outcomes for both women and the economy as a whole.  Below are three charts from the full report we found interesting. For a copy of the full report, click here.

WOMEN’S LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE PEAKED AT 61 PERCENT

The percentage of women participating the labor force increased steadily from the 1960s through the 1990s, but declined slightly after 2000. There are many smaller trends that may contribute to a dip in participation, including some younger women staying in school and older women retiring earlier, but others are more difficult to explain. When women’s participation peaked at 61 percent in 2000, the participation rate among prime-age women (age 25-54) was 78 percent.

Chart of the labor force participation rate of women.

PARTICIPATION RATES FOR PRIME-AGE WOMEN HAVE FALLEN MOST DRAMATICALLY FOR THOSE WITH LESS EDUCATION

While participation rates for all women have fallen since 2000, the decline has been sharpest among women with the lowest levels of educational attainment. Among prime-age women with a high school diploma or less, workforce participation rates fell from 71 percent to 62 percent between 2000 and 2016, while for women with bachelor’s or graduate degrees, participation rates have decreased only modestly.

Chart of labor force participation rate of women by education levels.

THE UNITED STATES IS THE ONLY INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRY WITHOUT A NATIONAL PAID FAMILY LEAVE POLICY

Despite research that shows paid maternal leave leads to increased maternal employment, the United States still does not have a national paid family leave plan. The chart below displays the maximum number of weeks of paid leave a new mother can receive in other OPECD countries spanning from Estonia and Finland offering over 150 weeks to Mexico and Israel offering 12 to 14 weeks.

Char of paid leave plans for mothers after childbirth among OECD countries.

 

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Chris McKenna

Communications Coordinator - Office of Communications

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