All posts by BLS Commissioner

12 Stats about Working Women

Editor’s note: The following has been cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor blog. The writer is Mark DeWolf, an economist in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.

A graphic showing the percentage of workers who are women in selected occupations.

Editor’s note: A text-only version of the graphic is below.

This Women’s History Month, we’re taking a look at women’s contributions to the U.S. labor force. Here are some noteworthy statistics we’ve rounded up!

Women are Integral to Today’s Workforce

  • There are 74.6 million women in the civilian labor force.
  • Almost 47 percent of U.S. workers are women.
  • More than 39 percent of women work in occupations where women make up at least three-quarters of the workforce.
  • Women own close to 10 million businesses, accounting for $1.4 trillion in receipts.
  • Female veterans tend to continue their service in the labor force: About 3 out of 10 serve their country as government workers.

A graphic showing the percentage of workers who are women in selected management occupations.

Editor’s note: A text-only version of the graphic is below.

Working Moms are the Norm

  • Seventy percent of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force, with over 75 percent employed full-time.
  • Mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under 18 today, compared with 11 percent in 1960.

A graphic showing that 34 percent of women have earned college degrees by age 29, compared with 26 percent of men.

Trends in Women’s Employment Have Evolved over Time

  • Women’s participation in the U.S. labor force has climbed since World War II: from 32.7 percent in 1948 to 56.8 percent in 2016.
  • The proportion of women with college degrees in the labor force has almost quadrupled since 1970. More than 40 percent of women in the labor force had college degrees in 2016, compared with 11 percent in 1970.
  • The range of occupations women workers hold has also expanded, with women making notable gains in professional and managerial occupations. In 2016, more than one in three lawyers was a woman, compared to fewer than 1 in 10 in 1974.
  • Despite these gains, women are still underrepresented in STEM occupations, with women’s share of computer workers actually declining since 1990.
  • The unemployment rate for women was 4.8 percent in January 2017, down from a peak of 9.0 percent in November 2010. (Source)

Since 1920, the Women’s Bureau has been working to address the challenges and barriers unique to women in the labor force, and data from BLS and other sources plays an important role in helping us understand those challenges. For more of the latest stats on working women, be sure to check out the Women’s Bureau’s data and statistics page. You may also like the BLS report Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2015 and a BLS webpage with links to more data about women.

 

Women at Work: Percentage of Women’s Representation in Selected Occupations

Speech-language pathologists 98%
Dental assistants 93%
Social workers 82%
Physical therapists 69%
Pharmacists 60%
Lawyers 36%
Civil engineers 11%
HVAC and refrigeration mechanics and installers 1%

 

Women in Management Occupations

Human resources managers 74%
Social and community service managers 71%
Education administrators 65%
Food service managers 46%
Marketing and sales managers 45%
Chief executives 27%
Computer and information systems managers 26%
Construction managers 7%

 

Some interesting numbers about the Oscars

The annual Academy Awards ceremony was held Sunday, February 26, to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements in the U.S. film industry. Impress your friends with these facts we’ve gathered about the Oscars and the motion picture business.

This year’s Oscar for Best Picture went to La La Land Moonlight.

  • Not all actors reach the top, but lots are trying: Actors in the U.S. can be found coast to coast with a total employment of 50,570. Almost one-third, or about 14,560, work in the greater Los Angeles metro area alone. Employment of actors is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.

Walt Disney is the most Oscar-nominated person ever with 59 nominations.

  • Walt may be gone, but his legacy lives on: Today there are 30,240 multimedia artists and animators employed in the U.S. California employs about a third (10,110) with half of those in the greater Los Angeles area (5,830). Employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Since 1945, the accounting firm Price Waterhouse (now called PricewaterhouseCoopers) has tabulated the Oscar ballots to ensure the secrecy of the results.

  • There are a total of 1,226,910 accountants in the United States, and California again has the largest employment with 144,540. Employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 11 percent from 2014 to 2024.

Oscar weekend is a boon to the beauty industry: Before walking down the red carpet, many use the services of a hairstylist – and house calls reportedly start at $500.

  • Nationwide, 348,010 hairstylists are employed. The five states with the most are California (26,340), New York (25,420), Pennsylvania (24,210), Florida (23,840) and Texas (22,050). The metropolitan area with the most hairstylists is New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ, with 20,790. Employment of barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences identified 336 feature films eligible for the 2016 Academy Awards.

The first Academy Awards ceremony was on May 16, 1929, at the Roosevelt Hotel’s Blossom Room with 270 attendees. The price of admission was $5, which included a broiled chicken dinner.

The Oscar statuette is 13.5 inches tall and weighs 8.5 pounds. A New York foundry casts them in bronze before they receive a 24-karat gold finish.

  • Workers who make these kinds of items are part of a small industry, known as “other nonferrous foundries, excluding die-casting,” with only 12,372 employees nationwide. About half are employed in three states: Michigan, Oregon and Ohio. Employment in the foundries industry is projected to decrease by about 17 percent from 2014 to 2024.

After the Oscars ceremony, you may be inspired to go to a movie. But did you know how much these prices have changed over the last 10 years?

  • Admission to movies, theaters and concerts is up 21 percent, carbonated drinks are up 19 percent, and candy and chewing gum are up 28 percent. We don’t track popcorn — sorry!

Editor’s note: Oscar-specific facts are from the official Oscars website, unless another source is provided.

Shape the Future with a Teaching Career

Editor’s note: The following has been cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor blog. The writer is Allen Chen, an economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This blog post was adapted from a Career Outlook article by Dennis Vilorio, an economist formerly employed by BLS.

If you dream of inspiring the minds of the future, consider teaching. Teachers give students the knowledge and tools to succeed both in school and beyond the classroom. It’s a smart career choice, too: Most teaching jobs pay above the median for all occupations ($36,200), and BLS projects there will be more than 2 million job openings between 2014 and 2024 for teachers at all levels.

Types of teachers

  • Preschool and K-12 teachers: These teachers are often generalists in lower grades but specialize in certain subjects in higher grades.
  • Postsecondary teachers: Commonly referred to as professors or instructors, these teachers work in community colleges, universities, technical and trade schools, and other institutions of higher learning. Besides instructing students, they conduct research and publish academic papers and books.
  • Special education and other teachers: These teachers work with children and adult students who have special needs, who want remedial help, or who need literacy instruction.

A day in the life

Teachers might be envied for the summer and holiday breaks they get, but the data show that they put in long hours preparing for their students. Many work on the weekends and outside the classroom after school by sponsoring student clubs or chaperoning events.

Some teachers are with the same students all day; others have a few classes throughout the day with different students. Many teachers say that challenges with classroom management, workload, and bureaucratic oversight are the most frustrating elements of the job. But they say the most satisfying parts are watching students learn, the variety each day brings, and working with supportive colleagues.

A chart showing the percentage of teachers working at each hour of the average weekday and weekend day.

Editor’s note: A text-only version of the graphic is below. The data are restricted to days that people who described their main job as being a teacher and reported doing at least one minute of work for their main job. Holidays are excluded from the data.

By the numbers

BLS data show variation in employment, projected job openings, and wages among teaching occupations. Wages also vary based on grade level and geographic location, but nearly all teaching jobs had median annual wages that were higher than the $36,200 median annual wage for all occupations in May 2015.

A graphic showing employment and wages for different types of teaching careers, including preschool, K-12, postsecondary, and special education.

Editor’s note: A text-only version of the graphic is below. Job openings are from employment growth and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. The “other” category includes adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers and instructors, self-enrichment education teachers, and miscellaneous teachers and instructors.

Becoming a teacher

Before leading your own classroom, you’ll have to learn to be a teacher. The skills, education, and other qualifications to be eligible vary widely — one good resource for finding requirements in your state is teacher.org.

For example, preschool teachers typically must have an associate’s degree, kindergarten through secondary teachers usually require a bachelor’s degree, and postsecondary teachers generally need a doctoral degree or a master’s degree in their field. None of the occupations typically require work experience in a related occupation for entry-level employment, but an internship or residency may be necessary as part of on-the-job training. And teachers in public schools usually need certification or a license.

There are plenty of ways to help shape the future, one mind at a time. Which path will you choose?

Learn more: More information about teaching or teaching-related occupations is available in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, as well as from the U.S. Department of Education and professional teaching associations. You might also qualify for loan forgiveness or for taking an alternative route to becoming teacher if you commit to work in a low-income community.

Graphic 1: What Time Teachers Work

Percent of teachers working, by time of day on days they worked, 2011–15
 Time of day Weekday Weekend day
4-4:59 am 1.2 1.1
5-5:59 am 4.3 1.1
6-6:59 am 21.6 5.5
7-7:59 am 69.6 13.6
8-8:59 am 88.1 20.6
9-9:59 am 90.7 31.1
10-10:59 am 91.0 28.6
11-11:59am 91.2 29.7
12-12:59 pm 88.1 28.9
1-1:59 pm 89.1 33.2
2-2:59 pm 89.7 32.8
3-3:59 pm 80.0 32.4
4-4:59 pm 47.9 34.4
5-5:59 pm 30.1 30.8
6-6:59 pm 16.0 25.5
7-7:59 pm 15.0 22.9
8-8:59 pm 18.2 27.4
9-9:59 pm 14.3 23.4
10-10:59 pm 7.2 14.0
11-11:59 pm 3.6 8.0
12-12:59 am 2.0 2.5
1-1:59 am 0.4 1.1
2-2:59am 0.3 0.7
3-3:59 am 0.3 0.9

 

Graphic 2: Types of Teaching Occupations

Occupation Number employed in 2014 Projected job openings, 2014-24 2015 median wages Typical education needed for entry
Postsecondary teachers 1,869,400 550,600 $64,450 Master’s degree or higher
Others, such as self-enrichment and adult literacy teachers 1,408,700 391,000 $30,760 Variable
Elementary school teachers 1,358,000 378,700 $54,890 Bachelor’s degree
Secondary school teachers 961,600 284,000 $57,200 Bachelor’s degree
Middle school teachers 627,500 175,500 $55,860 Bachelor’s degree
Preschool teachers 441,000 158,700 $28,570 Associate degree
Special education teachers 491,100 123,500 $58,500 Bachelor’s degree
Kindergarten teachers 159,400 56,100 $51,640 Bachelor’s degree

 

Innovating for the Future

Erica L. Groshen was the 14th Commissioner of Labor Statistics. She served from January 2013 to January 2017. This is her final post for Commissioner’s Corner.

Image of former BLS Commissioner Erica L. Groshen

It didn’t take long after I became Commissioner of Labor Statistics in January 2013 for me to appreciate the skill, dedication, and innovation of the staff that works here. Whether they’re doing sampling, data collection, estimation, or dissemination; whether they’re the IT professionals or the statisticians or the HR staff; whether they’re the newest employees who are so tech-savvy or the more senior employees who hold a wealth of institutional knowledge. To a person they are phenomenal. I am honored to have had the pleasure of leading them — and letting them lead me — during the past 4 years.

 

I have had many opportunities to observe and encourage innovation during my tenure at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from listening tours to senior staff conferences to regional office visits to discussions with a wide variety of stakeholders. From these efforts, we have identified several activities that will help us develop and implement the next generation of labor statistics. These days, we call these efforts a variety of names, such as “modernization” and “reengineering.” But, in truth, they just continue the impressive progress that has been the hallmark of BLS for the past 133 years.

In my final Commissioner’s Corner post, I want to tell you a little about some of our current reengineering efforts.

One of the things we do best at BLS is data collection, largely because we are always looking for ways to improve. Recent efforts include identifying alternative data sources, expanding electronic collection, and “scraping” information directly from the Internet. These efforts can expand the information we provide, lessen the burden we place on employers and households that provide data, and maybe even save some money to provide taxpayers the best value for their data dollar.

These efforts are not new. One source of alternative data we’ve used for many years comes from state unemployment insurance filings, which identify nearly every employer in the country. We tabulate these data but also use them as the source of our sample of employers for certain surveys and as a benchmark of detailed employment by industry. We also use information from private sources and from administrative sources, like vital statistics. Our latest efforts involve examining techniques to combine data across multiple sources, including mixing survey and nonsurvey data.

We want to give employers the opportunity to leverage the electronic data they already keep so it’s easier to respond to our surveys. These efforts include allowing employers to provide electronic information in multiple formats; identifying a single source of electronic data from employers, reducing the number of locations and number of requests made to multiple sites of the same organization; and working with employers to allow BLS to access their data directly from the Internet. We rely on good corporate citizens to supply the information that we use to produce important economic data. Making data collection easier is a win-win.

The innovation doesn’t stop at collection. We are using electronic text analysis systems extensively to streamline some of our data-processing activities. Much of the information we collect is in the form of text, such as a description of an industry or occupation, details about a workplace injury, or summaries of employee benefit plans. Transforming text into a classification system for tabulation and publication used to be a manual task. BLS has begun to transform this task through the use of machine-learning techniques, where computers learn by reviewing greater and greater amounts of information, resulting in accurate classification. As we expand our skills in this area and find more uses for these techniques, the benefits include accurate and consistent data and greater opportunities for our staff to use their brainpower to focus on new, unique, and unusual situations.

We are also modernizing our outputs, producing more with the information we have. For example, we have begun several matching projects, combining data from two or more sources to produce new information. One example is new information on nonprofit organizations. By linking our employment data with nonprofit status obtained from the Internal Revenue Service, we now have employment data separately for the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. And we took that effort one step further and produced compensation information for these sectors as well. Look for more output from these matching efforts in the future.

Finally, we’ve made great strides in how we present our information, including expanded graphics and video. And we are not stopping there. Each year we are expanding the number of data releases that include a companion graphics package. We are developing prototypes of a new generation of data releases, with more graphics and links to data series. And we have more videos to come.

My 4 years as Commissioner of Labor Statistics have flown by. I’m excited to see so many innovations begin, thrive, and foster additional innovations. I have no doubt that the culture of innovation at BLS will continue. As my term comes to an end, I know now more than ever that the skill, dedication, and creativity of the BLS staff will lead this agency to even greater advances in the years to come.

Why the unemployment rate still matters

Just like your body, the economy is a superbly complex system. When you visit doctors or other healthcare providers, they routinely take several measurements — height, weight, blood pressure, and temperature. Tracking these vital signs over time can lead you and your healthcare providers to seek further tests. Yet, even when your healthcare providers need more information, they continue to take the basic measurements.

In much the same way, the government routinely measures the health of the economy. Here at BLS, we specialize in tracking labor market activity, working conditions, productivity, and price changes. One of our most important measures is the national unemployment rate. Since it is measured the same way each month, year after year, changes in the rate can be an important signal of changes in the labor market and economy.

We realize, of course, that the unemployment rate doesn’t tell the full story. It isn’t meant to. Much like your temperature is a necessary measurement, its usefulness increases when viewed with other measures. When we release the unemployment rate each month, we also publish five alternative measures of labor underutilization to help assess labor market conditions from several perspectives.

Chart showing trends in alternative measures of labor underutilization.

In addition, the source for the unemployment data, the Current Population Survey, provides a wealth of information about workers, jobseekers, and people who aren’t working or looking for work. For example, we also get information about trends in labor force participation, a topic that has received much public attention in recent years. BLS releases thousands of other measures monthly, quarterly, and annually, depending on the topic.

For example, if you want to know how adult Black men are performing in the labor market, we have a stat for that. Ditto for people with a less than high school education or veterans with service-connected disabilities.

And if you want to know how employers are doing (say, how many job openings they’ve posted and how many workers have been fired or quit their jobs in the past month), check out our Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

Want to know what is happening in your local area? Not a problem. Each month BLS releases state employment and unemployment data and metropolitan area data too.

We invite you to visit our website or contact one of our expert economists next time you have a question about the health of labor market—or your favorite economic “symptom.”