Are you a woman who’s left the workforce? Tell us why


For half a century after World War II, women barreled into the job market in numbers that surged higher every year. They drove most of the rise in real household income for decades and boosted the economy’s total output at a time when men were dropping out of the job market.

Then, all of a sudden, they stopped. Since 2000, the share of women working in their prime earning years has declined.

In 1948, just over a third of prime-age women had a job or sought one. By 1999, after five decades of unrelenting progress, 76.8% of those women were in the workforce.

Since then, the participation rate slipped to 74.3%, and the number of women not looking for work grew by more than 12,000.

Some see the abrupt reversal as an unsurprising result of more than two decades without any major legislation making it easier for new parents to take time off or pay for childcare. Any number of articles and analyses have pondered the effects of a stubborn gender pay gap, inflexible schedules that keep women out of the executive suite and an undercurrent of discrimination that, at its worst, leaves women vulnerable to regular harassment.

But top economists now are pointing to another explanation. Women seem to be leaving the workforce for some of the same reasons men are: Middle-class jobs are in short supply and working at the bottom pays less than it used to.

Are you a woman who’s dropped out of the workforce? Fill out the form below to tell us why.


Why are so many women dropping out of the workforce?