US women's workforce participation declined 3% since 2000
- A recent op-ed column in The New York Times cites federal and organizational statistics that show a decline of U.S. women in the workforce since that statistic's peak in 2000. Women's participation in the workforce dipped from 60% in 2000 to slightly more than 57% today, and has been on the decline ever since the 2001 recession, according to Federal Reserve statistics.
- Furthermore, data from two Cornell University economists shows U.S. women dropped from having the sixth highest workforce numbers in the world to 17th. Statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that as U.S. women disappeared from the workforce, the number of working women from other industrialized nations, such as Germany, France, Japan and Spain, rose.
- The Times piece criticized President Donald Trump for not doing more for equal pay for women and supporting subsidized childcare. It also criticized the federal government for not adopting paid family leave, flexible work schedules and childcare subsidization.
No one cause seems to be responsible for the decline in the number of U.S. women in the workforce. But working women say that flexible work schedules and paid family leave benefits, which private employers, states and municipalities across the nation have adopted, would help them remain in jobs even as more caregiving responsibilities are placed on their shoulders.
A lack of promotional and career development opportunities drove women out of the workforce at one time or other during the past several decades into opening their own businesses. A report by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) showed that female-owned businesses accounted for 36% of all U.S. enterprises in 2016.
In another series of studies, women said they're sometimes penalized for wanting flexibility much more often than men and are passed over for promotions or coveted projects. They also said they're generally considered less serious about their careers than men.
Employers who claim they're struggling to hire people to fill the skills gap might take a look at the highly skilled women who dropped out of the workforce. This might be especially beneficial for companies in industries like tech, which generally have trouble with diversity in recruitment and retention. Employers can also seek out low-income women, who are often lower-skilled workers, for apprenticeships and training programs.