154,000 Fewer Women Held Jobs in September; Female Participation in Labor Force Matches 24-Year Low

October 22, 2013 - 8:44 AM

President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) - American women participated in the nation’s labor force in September at a rate that matched the lowest level in 24 years, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the same time, the number of women actually holding jobs declined by 154,000 from August to September.

Because the number of women participating in the labor force declined in September, the drop in the number of women who were actually employed did not cause an increase in the unemployment rate for women.

In fact, even though 154,000 fewer women worked in August than September, the unemployment rate for women dropped from 6.8 percent to 6.7 percent.

As calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person participates in the labor force if they are 16 or older, not institutionalized, and either have a job or have actively sought a job in the last four weeks. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of people over 16 in the non-institutionalized population who either have a job or actively sought one in the last four weeks.

In September, according to BLS, the labor force participation rate for women was 57.1 percent, down from 57.3 percent in August and 57.4 percent in July. The female labor force participation rate had also dropped to 57.1 percent this March.

Prior to this March and September, however, the last time the female labor force participation rate dropped as low as 57.1 percent was in February 1989—24 years ago.

The BLS has been tracking the participation of women in the U.S. labor force since 1948. In January 1948, 32.0 percent of the non-institutionalized female U.S. population over the age of 16 participated in the labor force. That percentage generally climbed over five decades, peaking at 60.3 percent in April 2000.

Since then, the labor force participation rate among women has been generally declining.

In August, according to BLS, the female civilian labor force was 72,973,000. In September it dropped to 72,705,000—a decline of 268,000.

Similarly, the number of women working in America dropped from 68,005,000 in August to 67,851,000 in September—a decline of 154,000.

However, because the decline in the number females in the civilian labor force was greater than the decline the number of females actually holding jobs, the unemployment rate for women actually dropped from 6.8 percent in August to 6.7 percent in September.