Press Releases

New JEC Report Highlights Economic Progress Made by Women in Past 25 Years

Aug 25 2010

Washington, D.C.
– As the nation celebrates the 90th anniversary of women’s right to vote, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) released a new report today analyzing how women’s economic conditions have changed since Geraldine Ferraro shattered the political glass ceiling 25 years ago and ushered in a new era of political leadership for women.

The report finds that women, who now make up nearly half of the labor force, have made significant strides in the past quarter century and are poised to be the engine of economic growth as the United States recovers from the Great Recession.  However, challenges remain for women, including a stubborn pay gap where the average full-time working woman earns 80 cents for every dollar earned by the average full-time working man.

Entitled “Women and the Economy 2010: 25 Years of Progress But Challenges Remain,” the report is the first in a series of reports and hearings the JEC will do this fall to provide a comprehensive understanding of women’s economic situation and to identify additional actions that are needed for women to achieve economic equality.

“Women have come a long way since Geraldine Ferraro’s ground-breaking candidacy,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Chair of the JEC.  “This report shows that as women have gained political power, they’ve gained economic strength.  Women work more, earn more, and are more educated than they were 25 years ago.  But, women still earn less than men.  In addition, women still shoulder most of the burden of care-giving responsibilities at home but families are still dependent on working wives’ incomes to make ends meet.”   

The JEC report findings include:

Women’s Share of the Labor Force Has Increased

  • In 2009, 59.2 percent of women were in the labor force, up from 53.6 percent in 1984.
  • In 2009, women made up 49.8 percent of the workforce, up from 44 percent in 1984.

Women’s Educational Attainment Surpasses Men

  • In 2009, 87 percent of women had at least four years of high school education, compared to 73 percent in 1984.  By contrast, in 2009, 86 percent of men had at least four years of high school education, compared to 74 percent in 1984.

Women’s Membership in Unions Has Grown

  • In 2008, women made up 45 percent of all union members, an increase from 34 percent in 1984.

Families Depend on Women’s Earnings

  • In 1983, wives’ incomes comprised just 29 percent of total family income.  By 2008, wives’ incomes comprised 36 percent of family income.
  • Between 1983 and 2008, married couples with a working wife experienced average annual income growth of 1.12 percent, while married couples with a stay-at-home wife saw their average annual incomes decline by 0.22 percent per year.


The Joint Economic Committee, established under the Employment Act of 1946, was created by Congress to review economic conditions and to analyze the effectiveness of economic policy.

Bookmark and Share

Related Files: