|Figure 27. Labor force participation rate of young adults, by sex and age group: Various years, 1960 to 2003|
|NOTE: The labor force participation rate is the percentage of civilians either employed or seeking employment.|
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, 1960 through 2003, unpublished data.
Young females' (ages 20 to 24) participation in the labor force increased during the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, but has shown no significant change since 1985. In 1960, 46 percent of females ages 20 to 24 were in the labor force. By 1985, the percentage had risen to 72 percent, and it remained around 72 percent through 2003. In general, a higher percentage of male 20- to 24-year-olds have participated in the labor force than females; however, the gap is narrowing. In 1960, 88 percent of male 20- to 24-year-olds were in the labor force compared to the previously noted 46 percent of females, a difference of 42 percentage points. By 1990, the difference was 13 percentage points, with 84 percent of young males and 71 percent of young females in the labor force. In 2003, only 9 percentage points separated the percentages of males (80 percent) and females (71 percent) participating in the labor force.