Jun 7, 2024 - Economy

Women's employment hits new record high

The line chart shows the U.S. employment rate for women aged 25-54 from January 1990 to May 2024. The rate generally increased over time, hitting 74.9% in April 2000, then declining with significant drops in the 2008 and 2020 recessions, followed by a steady recovery, hitting a new high of 75.7% in May 2024.
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

A record share of working-age women are employed, according to data out Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why it matters: It's a remarkable comeback story. Women have not only regained their pandemic losses in the job market, they've been exceeding those numbers month after month.

Zoom in: In May, 75.7% of all women age 25-54 were working — a record high.

  • There was also another increase in employment in the childcare sector, which has enabled more women to work, says Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.
  • "People are actually able to drop their kids off," she says, adding that for a while some centers would turn away parents on days when they were understaffed.

The big picture: Working-age men's employment rate is hovering around pre-pandemic levels — it was 86.4% in February 2020 and 86% in May 2024.

Reality check: It seems like women have come a long way. But the employment number in May 2024 is only a smidge higher than nearly a quarter-century ago when 74.9% of working-age women were employed.

Go deeper: Hiring blows past expectations, showing lingering labor market heat

Go deeper