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Changing Lifecycle of U.S. Women's Employment

women's employment cycle

Claudia Goldin and Joshua Mitchell prepared an interesting paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, "The New Lifecycle of Women's Employment: Disappearing Humps, Sagging Middles, Expanding Tops." The descriptive word choices may conjure unflattering imagery, but that's not the point. The paper was released in summary on the Monthly Labor Review by the U.S. BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and examines how women's participation in the workforce over the decades has changed.

It seems that for women who have children, the timing of their child's birth impacts their entire work cycle. For example, women born prior to 1950 they worked from their twenties and workforce participation peaked in their forties and decreased into their fifties. The authors called this the "hump" cycle. Women born after 1950 have a new cycle with a high start in the twenties, a flat period, a bit of sag in employment in the middle years, and a longer work cycle extending into the fifties and beyond. Hence the "expanding top" and "sagging middle" cognomen.

You can dig much deeper into this topic by accessing the entire report and the BLS summary. What I find intriguing is the effect of birth events later in life and an changes in education levels on the overall women's work cycle in America. There are other fact points, such as shorter breaks following a birth. The summary also states there is a "greater labor force recovery for those who take paid or unpaid leave." It appears legislation over recent decades has influenced the cycle as well.

What ever your phase in the employment cycle, regardless of your gender or family situation, we can help you create a resume that supports your current career goal. As I talk to clients every day, I often say that seldom is someone's career path a steady, straight incline. Most of us have lateral moves, breaks, twists, and changes.

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