• Women now outnumber men is the US workforce for the first time since the end of the Great Recession a decade ago.
  • Data from the US Labour Department's latest jobs report showed that women made up 50.04% of the entire workforce and they gained far more jobs than men in December.
  • Labour gains for women underscore the growing sectors within the economy that employ women at greater rates, such as healthcare and education.
  • But the share of US working-age women with a job is still lower than other developed countries such as Australia
  • For more visit Business Insider South Africa.

Women have come to outnumber men in the American workforce for the first time since the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession, according to the latest jobs report released on Friday.

US Labour Department data showed women held 50.04% of jobs in December, bringing their share of the workforce to 76.2 million people. Women gained 139,000 jobs compared to the 6,000 that men obtained in the same period.

The last time women made up the majority of the workforce was a ten-month stretch between June 2009 and April 2010, as the economy shed jobs at a breakneck pace in sectors that employed men like manufacturing.

The gains for women now reflect the growing industries which employ women at greater rates within the American economy, experts say.

"The sectors that are growing, like education and health care, are predominantly women's employment," Ariane Hegewisch, program director of employment and earnings at the Institute for Women's Policy Research, told the Wall Street Journal. "Looking at the 21st century, it is really amazing how profound some of the [sex] segregation is in the labour market."

Still, others noted that the amount of working-age women with a job remains lower compared to other advanced economies. Ernie Tedeschi, a former Treasury Department economist, said in a tweet that the lack of benefits for working mothers may be playing a role.

"Employment of prime-age women in the US however, which once led the world, has fallen behind our peer countries, Tedeschi said. "There are a lot of factors at work, but research has pointed to our relatively weak family-friendly policies in the US as a major one."

A report from the International Monetary Fund in April 2018 found that Australia, Canada, Japan, and many European nations had leapt ahead of the United States in the proportion of prime-age women with jobs.

A gap still exists between labour-force participation rate for women and men in the United States, a measurement that assessing the share of people who are working or trying to find a job. For women, the rate stands at 57.7% compared to 69.2% for men. A significant wage gap remains as well.

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