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Women postpone careers for more school

Tuesday, January 3, 2012  
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Young women appear to be postponing their working lives to get more education, according to a recent New York Times report. For the first time in 30 years there are more young women in school than in the work force.

Young women in their late teens and early 20s view the current economic lull as an opportunity to upgrade their skills, while their male counterparts are more likely to take whatever job they can find, according to the New York Times. Long term, the next generation of women may have a significant advantage over their male counterparts, whose career options are already becoming constrained, economists noted.

In the two and a half years since the recovery officially began, men age 16 to 24 have gained 178,000 jobs, while their female counterparts have lost 255,000 positions, according to Labor Department figures. At the same time, 412,000 young women have dropped out of the labor force entirely and are no longer looking for work. Across all age groups, an unemployed female worker is 35 percent more likely to drop out of the labor force in the next month than an unemployed male worker.

Some studies suggest that women are choosier about their job choices than men. Already earning less than men, women appear less willing to work when wages fall further, especially if they are able to rely on an employed spouse.

Societal influences are also affecting women’s choice to return to school rather than take a lesser job.Both men and women are going back to school, the New York Times noted, but the growth in enrollment is significantly larger for women. In the last two years, the number of women ages 18 to 24 in school rose by 130,000, compared with a gain of 53,000 for young men.

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