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Most of 2018’s new jobs went to women

Julia Pollak,

In the coverage of the Department of Labor’s most recent jobs report, one remarkable point was largely missed: 73 percent of the jobs created in November 2018 went to women. In fact, in every month of 2018, women were responsible for the lion’s share of job gains.

Of the 2.26 million net new jobs created in 2018 in the Labor Department’s establishment survey, 1.42 million (63 percent) went to women. The result is that over the course of the year, the employment-population ratio (EPOP) rose 0.8 percentage points for women, compared with 0.4 percentage points for men.

Prime-age EPOP is 79.7 percent as of November 2018, exactly what it was in December 2007 before the Great Recession hit. But the labor market looks a little different. Prime-age male EPOP is down 0.8 percentage points, whereas prime-age female EPOP is up 0.7 percentage points.

What explains the divergent trends in male and female employment? There are likely four driving forces.

  • The first is the increase in the average age of first-time moms. The surge in employment among younger women likely reflects that women are increasingly focusing on their careers in their 20’s and early 30’s and starting families later.
  •  The second is tremendous employment growth in female-dominated occupations. Of the 15 million net jobs created between December 2007 and November 2018, more than a quarter were in the health care and social assistance sector. As of 2017, women made up the majority of employees in health diagnosing and treating occupations (74.4 percent), health technologist and technician occupations (77.4 percent), and health care support occupations (86.5 percent).
  • The third is the increase in the female share of total employment in other growing occupations, such as transportation. Rideshare apps appear to have opened driving occupations to women like never before: Traditionally, only 1 percent of New York cabbies have been women, but about 14 percent of Uber drivers, 30 percent of Lyft drivers and 40 percent of Sidecar drivers are women.
  • The fourth is that women outnumber men in colleges and grad schools. Women earned the majority of doctoral degrees in 2017 for the ninth straight year, and they outnumber men in grad school by 137 to 100, according to the Council of Graduate Schools. Women earned a majority of doctoral degrees in 7 of 11 fields tracked by the Council of Graduate Schools, including biology, health and medical sciences. Women have earned more bachelor’s degrees than men since 1982, and they have increased their share of the total each year since.
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