Reuters: A tight U.S. labor market and booming demand in industries with an abundance of female workers is drawing more women back into the workforce, helping to shrink the longstanding gap in the labor participation rate between men and women to the narrowest on record.
Other parts of a report released by the Labor Department on Friday showed that the longest economic expansion on record is leading to improvements for workers who are often left on the sidelines. Not only did the unemployment rate for African Americans drop to a record low of 5.5% in August, it narrowed to being 1.62 times the white unemployment rate, the smallest gap ever.
The share of women aged 25 to 54 who either have jobs or are looking for work rose by a full percentage point in August to 76.3%, according to the report. The gain helped to lift the overall labor participation rate to 63.2%, one of the bright spots in a monthly jobs report otherwise riddled with signs of a softening U.S. economy.
“What we’re seeing is the benefits of a strong labor market,” said Nick Bunker, an economist at the Indeed Hire Lab. “Workers who in the past have been shut out of the labor market, including women, workers of color and workers with disabilities have seen increasing gains.”
While the share of men who are working or looking for jobs is still higher at 89%, participation has been growing more strongly for women over the past several years.