Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Women in the Labor Force: A Databook (2010 Edition)


The past several decades have been marked by notable changes in women’s labor force activities. Women’s labor force participation is significantly higher today than it was in the 1970s, particularly among women with children, and a larger share of women work full time and year round than in past decades. In addition, women have increasingly attained higher levels of education: among women age 25 to 64 who are in the labor force, the proportion with a college degree roughly tripled from 1970 to 2009. Women’s earnings as a proportion of men’s earnings also have grown over time. In 1979, women working full time earned 62 percent of what men did; in 2009, women’s earnings were 80 percent of men’s. The women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio peaked at 81 percent in 2005–06, edging down to 80 percent in 2007, where it has remained through 2009. Three additional data tables are being introduced to the 2010 edition of Women in the Labor Force: A Databook; the new tables provide information on women by employee tenure (table 29), employment status of veterans (table 36), and persons with a disability (table 37).

This report presents historical and current labor force and earnings data for women and men from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a national monthly survey of approximately 60,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unless otherwise noted, data are annual averages from the CPS. Users should note that the comparisons of earnings in this report are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that may be significant in explaining earnings differences. For a detailed description of the source of the data and an explanation of concepts and definitions used, see the Technical Note.


Last Modified Date: March 16, 2011

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