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Catalyst Women Are Not Half the US Labor Force 2-8-10

Catalyst Women Are Not Half the US Labor Force 2-8-10

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Published by etroiano7645
The Catalyst Information Center created this document to resolve data mistakes and misconceptions we have read about lately about women's share of the labor force.
The Catalyst Information Center created this document to resolve data mistakes and misconceptions we have read about lately about women's share of the labor force.

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Published by: etroiano7645 on Feb 08, 2010
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© 2010 Catalyst Inc.
“Women Are Not Half of the U.S. Labor Force” 
and Other Data Clarifications
The Catalyst Information Center created this document in early 2010 to resolve data mistakesand misconceptions we have read about lately. Learn more about the Catalyst Information Centeratwww.catalyst.org/page/75/information-center.Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization working globallywith businesses and the professions to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities forwomen and business. Learn more about Catalyst atwww.catalyst.org.
1. Are women half or more than half of the labor force in the United States?
No, they are not. According to the most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in2009, women were 46.7% of the U.S. labor force.
2. Are women half or more than half of employed workers?
No, they are not. According to the most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in2009, women were 47.3% of employed workers.
3. What about the many news stories I’ve seen that say women are 50% or moreof the labor force or workforce?
During the recession, men were losing jobs at a rapid pace, and if they had continued to do soindefinitely, women would have become half the labor force. But this will not necessarily be thecase, as male-dominated industries that contracted during the recession are already growing orlikely will begin growing again. The 2009 articles that said women were becoming the majoritywere basing their numbers on “nonfarm payroll” or “payroll” data
(see next question)
but oftenstill using the terms labor force, workforce, and employment without clarifying the information.Examples of that happening in mainstream media include the following:
Casey B. Mulligan, “When Will Women Become a Work-Force Majority,”
The NewYork Times
(May 6, 2009).http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/06/when-will-women-become-a-majority-of-the-workforce/  
Dennis Cauchon, “Women Gain as Men Lose Jobs,”
(September 3, 2009).http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-09-02-womenwork_N.htm 
Rampell, Catherine, “Women Now a Majority in American Workplaces,”
The New York Times
(February 5, 2010).http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/06/business/economy/06women.html?scp=90&sq=women&st=nyt 
4. I read that “women hold 50% of establishment payroll jobs.” What does thatmean?
© 2010 Catalyst Inc.
2This is an interesting number, but it comes with many important qualifiers, including thelimitations of “establishment payroll jobs” and whether data has been seasonally adjusted, whichare explained below.
The Data:
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics’ revised numbers published in February2010, women in January 2010 held 50.3% of seasonally unadjusted, nonfarm payroll jobs basedon Business Establishment Survey data. The revision release made minor changes to previouslyreleased data, and women first hit this qualified benchmark in February 2009 when they held50.0% of seasonally unadjusted, nonfarm payroll jobs. During 2009, women also held 50 percentor more of seasonally unadjusted, nonfarm payroll jobs during March, November, and December2009.
 In January 2010, women held 49.9% of nonfarm payroll jobs based on Business EstablishmentSurvey data that has been seasonally adjusted.
 Establishment Payroll Jobs vs. Labor Force:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ BusinessEstablishment Survey Establishment collects data on “establishment payroll jobs.” Establishmentpayroll jobs are not the same as the labor force. The Business Establishment Survey samples390,000 business establishments nationwide for payroll data. It does not include agriculturalworkers, self-employed workers, household workers, active military, and some militaryreservists. There is no separate category for part-time workers, and part-time workers arecounted as part of the total. The 50.3% or 49.9% statistics about women are complicated by theselimits since women are a higher proportion of part-time workers and men are a higher proportionof agricultural and self-employed workers, skewing the data results toward women.
4, 5
 While the Business Establishment Survey is accurate,
it is not a complete measure
of persons inemployment, and
it is not comparable
with labor force data, employed persons data, or women inparticular occupations data. The Information Center’s contact at the Bureau of Labor Statisticsacknowledges that this survey is not designed to pick up demographic information.
Seasonally Adjusted vs. Seasonally Unadjusted 
: Seasonal adjustment removes the effects of events that follow a more or less regular pattern each year. These adjustments make it easier toobserve the cyclical and other nonseasonal movements in a data series. During cold months,industries such as construction, which employ more men than women, see a predictable seasonaldecline since less construction happens in cold weather. Looking at seasonally unadjusted dataduring winter months will further skew data results toward women.If the 50.3% or the 49.9% numbers are used, it must not be improperly compared with othernumbers and one cannot use the term “labor force.”
5. Why doesn’t Catalyst use the higher Business Establishment Survey payrolldata?
As explained above, the payroll data is not a complete picture of employment. Further, since theBureau of Labor Statistics does not collect the same detailed level of data for the BusinessEstablishment Survey (part of the Current Employment Statistics) that it does for the Current
© 2010 Catalyst Inc.
3Population Survey, we could not compare it to other data we frequently use, such as the numberand percent of women in certain industries and occupations, women working part-time, workingmothers and most of the other Bureau of Labor Statistics data Catalyst uses.
6. Will women ever be more than 50% of the labor force?
We do not know. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research hopes that a 50% milestone willencourage policymakers to look more closely at equal pay, flexibility, sick leave and other issuesthat disproportionately affect women.
 Time will tell whether changing laws, economic growth (or not), and women’s increasingeducation rates, and the growth of a knowledge economy leads to them becoming a majority of the labor force or increasing numbers of management, professional and related occupations.According to the most recent labor force projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,however, in 2018 women are projected to be 46.9% of the labor force, 0.2 percentage pointshigher than they were in 2009.
7. What is the difference between “labor force” and “employed” data from theBureau of Labor Statistics?
The labor force data is composed of:
Employed workers age 16 and older in agriculture industries.
Employed workers age 16 and older in nonagricultural industries.
Unemployed workers, which are defined as people who want to work and are available towork and who have made recent specific efforts to find employment, as well as peoplewaiting to be hired back to a job from which they had been laid off.The labor force does not include:
People who are not available or do not desire to work.
“Marginally attached workers,” which are people who want to work or are available towork but have not searched for work within the previous four weeks of data collection.
“Discouraged workers,” which is a subset of marginally attached workers and defined aspeople who want to work and are available to work but are not looking for work becausethey believe there are no jobs available or none for which they would quality.
Anyone who falls outside the “civilian noninstitutional population.” The “civiliannoninstitutional population” is defined as persons 16 years of age and older residing inthe 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (forexample, penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged), and who are not on active dutyin the Armed Forces.Employed workers, a subset of the labor force, is composed of:
The civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and older in agriculture andnonagricultural industries who are actively employed.
8. How many women are in management, professional, and related occupations?

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