Jan 10, 2020

Women outpace men on U.S. payrolls

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Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Note: Men count was derived by subtracting women count from total; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

There are more women on American payrolls than men as of the latest U.S. jobs report.

Why it matters: The data reflects a hiring boom in industries that are female-dominated, while sectors that are more likely to employ men are lagging in job gains. The last time women overtook men in payrolls was “during a stretch between June 2009 and April 2010,” according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the milestone.

What they're saying: The reason “comes down to what industries are expanding and which ones are contracting,” Megan Greene, a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, tells Axios.

  • By the numbers: Women make up 22% of employees in goods-producing sectors (like mining, construction and manufacturing), as of last month.
  • But they make up 54% of services-oriented jobs, including gigs in industries like health care and retail.
  • The services sector is healthy, while manufacturing has seen pain from the trade war. Additionally, services make up a bigger chunk of the U.S. economy.

Other factors may also be at play. For one, the unemployment rate is at a half-century low, shrinking the pool of readily available workers and forcing companies to consider candidates they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Between the lines: Another employment survey of households by the Labor Department shows a persisting gap between men and women. By that measure, 84 million men say they have jobs, while 74 million women say are employed.

  • "Men are more likely to hold jobs not counted on pay­rolls, in­clud­ing the self-em­ployed and farm la­bor­ers,” as the Journal notes. 
  • “And women are more likely to hold multiple jobs.” A sin­gle per­son can be counted twice if they hold multiple jobs in the data shown above.

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Where it stands: About one-third of women in oil and gas, utilities and engineering jobs surveyed by consultancy McKinsey say they're usually the only woman in the room.

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Why it matters: "The notion that there's gonna be a jobs apocalypse has been with us for the last decade, but the data shows that's not coming to pass," says Rob Brown, VP of Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work.

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