Labor Secretary Reports on Employment Situation

Jan. 10, 2000
Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman gives the last employment situation report of the century.

Labor Secretary Reports on Employment Situation

As the 20th century came to a close, the flu bug gripped America but the nation's economic health continued to be excellent, according to Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman.

"In the last employment situation report of the century, unemployment continued at a 30-year low of 4.1 percent. We saw impressive gains in a wide variety of industries; services added 109,000 jobs in December, employment in business services rose by 77,000 -- especially in help supply and computer and data processing services. Retail trade employment rose by 65,000 with heavy concentration in stores and restaurants," said Herman.

Herman pointed out that it is important to look back at how the nation's workforce and workplace are changing, at the close of one century and beginning of a new century.

She pointed to the following examples of how, who, and where Americans work have shifted dramatically in the past 100 years. For example:

  • The women's labor force participation rate more than tripled over the 20th century. In 1900, less than 20 percent of women worked; today, that figure is about 60 percent.
  • In 1950, the majority of American workers had less than a high school degree. Today, the majority of workers have at least some college education.
  • In 1900, one out of three workers was employed in agriculture, and one out of three in services. Today, three out of four workers are in services, and only three out of 100 are in agriculture.

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