Mar 13, 2023 - Economy

Number of women in the workforce tops pre-pandemic levels for first time

Women in the U.S. labor force
Data: FRED; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

The number of women in the workforce in February was higher than pre-pandemic levels for the first time, according to the latest jobs data out Friday.

Why it matters: The strength of women's return to work was faster than anyone could've imagined just a few years ago when dire predictions about a "she-cession" flooded the news.

By the numbers: 105,000 of the 311,000 jobs added in February were in the leisure and hospitality sector, where women hold the majority of positions.

  • Overall, women's labor force participation — that is, the percentage of women working or looking for work — is at 57.2%, almost back to the February 2020 number, 57.9%.
  • Men's labor force participation rate is much higher than women's, at 68%, but still down more than a point from pre-pandemic levels.

Go deeper: College-educated women did not leave labor force during pandemic

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