In fact, the employment figures released this week showed that the percentage of non-institutionalized women over the age of 16 who participated in the labor force (meaning they had a job or were seeking one) dropped in September to 57.1 percent, a rate it also hit this March, but was otherwise a 24-year low.
In January 1948, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics first started tracking female participation in the U.S. labor force, it was only 32.0 percent. It peaked at 60.3 percent in April 2000, and since then has been trending down.
In February, the BLS released a "databook" on the status of women in the labor force as of 2011. It revealed that married women (57.1 percent) were more likely to be employed than unmarried women (49.8 percent). Similarly, married men (70.5 percent) were more likely to be employed than unmarried men (56.4 percent). Overall, 63.7 percent of married Americans were employed compared to 52.9 percent of unmarried Americans.
Married women with children under 18 were also more likely to be employed (65.1 percent) than unmarried women with children under 18 (63.6 percent). While married women (70.7 percent) and unmarried women (70.8 percent) with children between 6 and 17 were almost equally likely to be employed, married women with children under 6 (58.3 percent) and under 3 (55.9 percent) were more likely to be employed than unmarried women with children under 6 (54.5 percent) and under 3 (49.7 percent).
The U.S. government has been setting records in recent years for the number of people on food stamps and Medicaid, like Jane, and the number of people on disability, like Jim. Yet, even while the overall labor force participation rate for women has declined, married mothers with children, like June, are more likely to work than their unmarried peers.
Women like June contribute to our economy in two ways: They work and create wealth now, and they raise children who can create wealth in the future.
Yet, one wonders how many of them wish the U.S. economy was more like 1948, when it was easier for married mothers to stay home with their children if they wanted, when real GDP grew at 4.1 percent, and when their cousins could not act like Jane and Jim because redistributionist politicians had not yet started the food stamp, Medicaid and disability programs.