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For the first time in nearly 10 years, women hold more than half the jobs in the U.S.

According to the Labor Department’s latest monthly jobs report for December, women held 50.04% of jobs, based on payrolls excluding farm workers and the self-employed. More specifically, they held 76.246 million jobs, or 109,000 more than men. 

“This is significant even if the percentage doesn’t stay at that level,” said Ariane Hegewisch,  program director for employment and earnings for The Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “The gap has narrowed and narrowed for quite a while.”

“Women are working where jobs are growing,” Betsey Stevenson, an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, tweeted about the latest jobs report. “Health care added more jobs in 2019 than 2018, while jobs growth slowed substantially in mining, construction, transportation & warehousing, and construction.”

According to the December jobs report, women continue to hold the majority of jobs in certain sectors: government (58%), financial activities (56.4%), leisure and hospitality (both 53%) and more than three-quarters of jobs in education and health services (77.4%).

Women hold 54% of nonfarm private-sector service jobs, which account for 84% of all nonfarm private sector jobs, according to Stevenson.  

But more men are working. According to another section of the jobs report known as the household survey, just over 81 million men over 20 said they were employed in December compared with 72 million women over 20. The participation rate of women in the workforce is also lower: 59.2% versus 71.5%. 

While women also continue to earn less than men in the aggregate, at 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, the gap is negligible when comparing pay scales between mean and women in with the same job title, years of experience and location — just two cents, according to PayScale.com.

The December jobs report showed a moderate growth in total payrolls of 145,000 with notable job gains in retail trade and health care, where women tend to dominate, and notable job losses in mining. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.5%.

— Check out 7 Retirement Challenges Women Face That Men Don’t on ThinkAdvisor.