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WOMEN SWELL THE WORKFORCE

The kids are getting to school age

Although labor-force growth has accelerated this year, the percent of adult men either employed or looking for work is still in a long-term downtrend. Labor-force participation by adult women, on the other hand, has risen to a record 60%--defying the widespread view that it had leveled off.

Economist Sophia Koropeckyj of Regional Financial Associates notes that older women are now the leading edge of the trend. Among those aged 35 to 44, for example, participation is up by more than a percentage point, to 78.3%, since the start of the year.

One reason is that many women are reentering the labor force after staying at home to raise young children. (Kindergarten enrollments hit a new record this year.) At the same time, sluggish income growth and the impact of downsizing on male earnings continue to foster the need for two-wage-earner families. And the ranks of single women are growing--only 82% of today's 35-to-39-year-olds have ever been married, compared with 90% a decade ago.

If these trends continue, says Koropeckyj, working women, who are already 48% of the workforce, could be the majority by 2000.

BY GENE KORETZ


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Updated June 14, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1996, Bloomberg L.P.
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