Economic Downturn Drives Women from Workplace

A Joint Economic Committee study released today reports that, in the past decade, the slowing economy, not a decision to “opt-out” and raise children, has driven women to leave the workplace.

For the first time since the 1960s, the percentage of women in the workplace has fallen instead of risen after an economic recovery, reports the New York Times. The declining percentage of women in the workplace brings to a standstill more than 12 years of gains. According to the New York Times, this trend is roughly the same for all women, regardless of their marital status, education level or children’s ages.

“When we saw women starting to drop out in the early part of this decade, we thought it was the motherhood movement, women staying home to raise their kids,” said Heather Boushy, the senior economist at the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, to the The New York Times. “We did not think it was the economy, but when we looked into it, we realized that it was.”

The country’s median wage is now $14.84 an hour, down from $15.04 in 2004. The same New York Times article notes that women have been leaving the workplace at the same rate as men. Reasons given include downturns, layoffs, outsourcing, a lack of raises and an increasing number of pay cuts.

According to UPI, nearly 4 million more women would be working if progress had continued to increase instead of decrease.


The New York Times 7/22/2008; UPI 7/22/2008

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