Number of working mothers with children more than doubles

A new study has found the percentage of mothers who juggle a job and raising young children has more than doubled in a little over three decades.

OTTAWA — A new study has found the percentage of mothers who juggle a job and raising young children has more than doubled in a little over three decades.

Statistics Canada says the employment rate among women with children under the age of three was 64.4 per cent last year, more than twice the proportion of 27.6 per cent in 1976.

The agency says the employment rate for women with children has been steadily rising for three decades — almost doubling in 33 years.

In 2009, 72.9 per cent of women with children under the age of 16 living at home were employed, nearly twice the rate of 39.1 per cent recorded in 1976.

“This analysis of paid work among women shows considerable change in their labour force activity,” says a summary of the study.

“In general, the employment rate for women has followed an upward trend since 1976, when it was 41.9 per cent, although women are still less likely to be employed than men.”

StatsCan says that about 8.1 million women worked last year, or 58.3 per cent of Canada’s working-age females — markedly less than the 65.2 per cent of men.

And, while nearly three-quarters of employed women worked full-time last year, they were still more likely than men to work part-time.

Nearly seven in 10 part-time workers were women. That proportion has changed little over the last three decades, StatsCan says.

“The majority of employed women continue to work in occupations in which they have been traditionally concentrated,” says the study.

“However, they have increased their representation in several professional fields such as business and finance.”

Last year, 67 per cent of employed women worked in teaching, nursing and related health occupations, clerical or other administrative positions, or sales-and-service occupations. In contrast, 31 per cent of employed men worked in these fields.

Yet women comprised 51.2 per cent of business and financial professionals in 2009, up from 38.3 per cent in 1987.

The share of women employed has gone up in diagnostic and treating positions in medicine and related health professions. Women made up 55.2 per cent of doctors, dentists and other health occupations in 2009, as well as 72.5 per cent of professionals employed in social sciences or religion.

The agency says the impact of the recent economic downturn was less severe on women than on men.

The employment rate for men fell 2.9 percentage points to 65.2 per cent between 2008 and 2009. The same pattern was set in the recessions of the early 1980s and 1990s, StatsCan said.

In contrast, the employment rate for women declined by only one percentage point in 2009, after reaching an historic high of 59.3 per cent in 2008.

In 2009, the number of unemployed women rose to 608,000, compared with 487,000 in 2008 and 476,000 in 2007.

The unemployment rate for women increased to seven per cent in 2009, the highest since 2003. But among men, it reached 9.4 per cent, the highest rate since 1996.

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