Young Women Opt For Education Over Employment

Where are the young women?   Economists have been pondering this question and haven’t been able to come up with an answer quite yet.  Latest employment reports show that labor force participation rate for 18- to 24-year-old women fell 1.2 percentage points from the prior month to 67.3 percent.  Ten years ago it was 71.2 percent.

What accounts for this downward shift in the percentage of women either working or looking for a job?  One theory is that as job seekers hit dead ends, they become discouraged and drop out of the economy  – basically channel surfing on their couches all day long.

But perhaps, this is too ominous a prediction.  Maybe the explanation could be something as simple as the fact more women in this age category are attending college.  According an article in the Harvard Business Review, “the trend toward higher college enrollment among women dwarfs the decline in labor force participation.”  In fact, women far outnumber men when it comes to education.  Women now earn 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, 63 percent of all master’s degrees and 53 percent of all doctorates.  As far as predictions go, it would be logical to assume that as women become more educated, they well fare better in the workforce with better career prospects.  Eventually this will produce large economic gains for the nation over the next decade.

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