Econ Quiz: Women’s Labor Force Participation

(Image Source: Eric Barrett / Unsplash)

August 2023

During the second half of the 20th century, women’s participation in the labor force increased rapidly, rising from about 34% in 1950 and peaking at around 60% in 1999 as educational and career opportunities for women began to open up in the second half of the 20th century.

The labor force participation rate is calculated by comparing the number of people who are employed or looking for employment, to the number of civilians aged 16 or older who are not looking for work. This excludes people in the armed forces or those who belong to an institution such as a nursing home, juvenile facility, etc. As of May 2023, the overall U.S. labor force participation was 62.6%, up from a pandemic low of 60.1% in April 2020, but not yet reaching the rate of 63.3% as seen in February 2020, the last month before the pandemic. Similarly, the national average for women in the labor force, which decreased by 1.3 percent from 2019-2021, began recovering in 2022, reaching 56.8 percent in May 2023 and continuing to climb.

Wisconsin’s overall labor force participation rate exceeded the national average in 2022, as it has continued to do since 1979, reaching 65.1% in May 2023, the latest month available. Not surprisingly, at 2.4%, Wisconsin also achieved a lower unemployment rate than the national average, 3.6%, ranking 9th in the nation.

That brings us to today’s question. Do Wisconsin women continue this trend of exceeding national numbers in the labor market? If 56.8% of women nationwide participated in the workforce in 2022, what percentage of women in Wisconsin participated in the labor force last year?  

A. 35.7% 

B. 48.4% 

C. 50.3%

D. 59.3% 

E. 62.0% 


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