Women leaving the U.S. workforce in record numbers
As many as 324,000 women dropped out of labor force in last two months
Many women are being stay-at-home moms today - but not entirely by choice. Unemployed women hit an all-time historical high of 53,321,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the past two months alone, 324,000 women dropped out of the nation's civilian labor force.
Research shows that women leave the workforce for many reasons, including child care costs, lack of workplace flexibility, and earnings disparity.
The labor force is comprised of all people in the U.S. who are 16 years or older who are not in the military, a prison, or another institution such as a nursing home or mental hospital and who either have a job or are unemployed but have actively sought work in the previous four weeks and are currently available to work.
Only 57.6 percent of the women in the civilian non-institutional population were in the labor force this year. That is the lowest rate of labor force participation by American women since April 1993.
The rate of female participation in the civilian workforce peaked twelve years ago, in April 2000. Labor statistics at that time were 60.3 percent.
In February, there was an historical high of 72,706,000 women in the labor force. But in March, that dropped to 72,529,000-a decline of 177,000. And in April, it dropped to 72,382,000-a decline of another 147,000.
Thus, in March and April, according to the BLS data, a total of 324,000 American women dropped out of the civilian labor force.
The number of women added to those not in the labor force in March and April (488,000) exceeds the number of women who dropped out of the labor force during those two months (324,000) because women who newly turned 16, or left the military, or were released from prison or another institution during those two months and then did not seek a job were added to the ranks of those not in the labor force.
Elizabeth Mattey, formerly an intern with the Institute for Women's Policy Research said that many women are leaving the workforce due to economic necessity.
"I believe that it is a woman's choice whether to have a professional career or to devote her time and energy to motherhood; it is her right to decide. Yet I doubt that, in lieu of the slumping U.S. economy and the many financial barriers these women face, all of these women left work completely out of their own preference. Many factors most likely affected their decisions. Research shows that women leave the workforce for many reasons, including child care costs, lack of workplace flexibility, and earnings disparity.
"A large number of women in the United States cannot afford to balance both childrearing and their careers. Child care is increasingly more expensive, and if hiring a baby-sitter costs literally as much as a woman's salary, then she may feel compelled to simply raise the children herself, abandoning her own career aspirations.
"In light of the current economic downturn, rising child care costs only worsen families' financial situations.
"Child care fees at licensed centers reach as high as nearly $15,000 a year for infant care, according to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. All-day care for older children can cost as much as $11,000 a year, more than most U.S. families spend in a year on food or public college tuition," Mattey adds.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Women in workforce, childrearing, economic downturn
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