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Unemployment - Women
Unemployment - Women in United States
United States

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United States Value:


Percentage of the female civilian workforce that is unemployed

Unemployment - Women in depth:

Additional Measures:

Unemployment - Women by State

Percentage of the female civilian workforce that is unemployed

Unemployment - Women Trends

Percentage of the female civilian workforce that is unemployed

Trend: Unemployment - Women in United States, 2023 Health Of Women And Children Report

Percentage of the female civilian workforce that is unemployed

United States

 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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About Unemployment - Women

US Value: 5.2%

Top State(s): South Dakota: 2.5%

Bottom State(s): Nevada: 7.7%

Definition: Percentage of the female civilian workforce that is unemployed

Data Source and Years: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

Unemployment has both direct and indirect impacts on health. A stable and well-paying job helps make it possible for people to afford living in areas with access to healthy food, quality medical services and child care and education for their families — all vital elements in maintaining good health. Unemployment can also mean losing access to health insurance, as most people have employer-sponsored insurance.

There is a strong relationship between employment status and mental health. Unemployment may lead to lower self-esteem, higher levels of depression and strained family ties. The effects of job loss are not limited to the individual: Studies have shown a profound effect on impacted families and children. Unemployment is associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality for those in their early and middle careers

High unemployment rates increase the economic burden on states due to decreased revenue from income taxes and increased demand for unemployment insurance and social welfare programs. 

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a large increase in the number of unemployed individuals in the United States, with notable impacts on women. Between February 2020 and February 2021, women disproportionately left the labor force, making up more than half of the total workforce loss despite comprising less than half of the U.S. workforce. Women are returning to work, however, and as of March 2023, women’s employment was 0.5% above the pre-pandemic level.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the prevalence of unemployment is higher among:

  • Younger women ages 16-19 compared with women ages 20 and older.
  • Hispanic and Black women compared with Asian and white women.
  • Women with less than a high school diploma; unemployment rates decrease as educational attainment increases.

Different strategies exist to reduce the unemployment rate, especially for women. Women are disproportionately burdened with caretaking responsibilities for children and other family members, and the lack of affordable child care or supportive policies, such as paid family and medical leave, can make it difficult to maintain full-time or stable work. Decreasing the unemployment rate and increasing the number of working women requires serious investments in supportive care infrastructure, labor protections and equitable wages and benefits.

Healthy People 2030 tracks different measures of economic stability, including increasing employment among the working-age population ages 16-64.

Boesch, Diana, and Shilpa Phadke. “When Women Lose All the Jobs: Essential Actions for a Gender-Equitable Recovery.” Center for American Progress, February 1, 2021.

Brand, Jennie E. “The Far-Reaching Impact of Job Loss and Unemployment.” Annual Review of Sociology 41, no. 1 (August 14, 2015): 359–75.

Davila, Evelyn P., Sharon L. Christ, Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, David J. Lee, Kristopher L. Arheart, William G. LeBlanc, Kathryn E. McCollister, et al. “Young Adults, Mortality, and Employment.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 52, no. 5 (May 2010): 501–4.

Dooley, David. “Unemployment, Underemployment, and Mental Health: Conceptualizing Employment Status as a Continuum.” American Journal of Community Psychology 32, no. 1–2 (2003): 9–20.

Dooley, David, Jonathan Fielding, and Lennart Levi. “Health and Unemployment.” Annual Review of Public Health 17, no. 1 (January 1996): 449–65.

“How Does Employment—or Unemployment—Affect Health?” Issue Brief. Health Policy Snapshot: Public Health and Prevention. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, March 12, 2013.

Nikolova, Milena, and Boris N. Nikolaev. “Family Matters: The Effects of Parental Unemployment in Early Childhood and Adolescence on Subjective Well-Being Later in Life.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 181 (May 26, 2018): 312–31.

Roelfs, David J., Eran Shor, Karina W. Davidson, and Joseph E. Schwartz. “Losing Life and Livelihood: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Unemployment and All-Cause Mortality.” Social Science & Medicine 72, no. 6 (March 2011): 840–54.

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America’s Health Rankings builds on the work of the United Health Foundation to draw attention to public health and better understand the health of various populations. Our platform provides relevant information that policymakers, public health officials, advocates and leaders can use to effect change in their communities.

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