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The “she-cession” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has created economic instability for women across the United States. Yet, before the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s employment and earnings were improving nationwide. It is important to track trends in women’s employment and earnings prior to the pandemic to have a full sense of both progress made and the continued barriers that women face. The patterns in women’s pre-pandemic employment and earnings will provide a baseline by which to measure the effect of the “she-cession” on women’s employment and earnings. This brief, which presents 2019 data, provides that important baseline.

This policy brief updates the Employment and Earnings Index of the Status of Women in the States, presenting data on the economic standing of women across the United States in 2019. The data show that more women than ever were in the labor force, the gender wage gap had decreased, and a growing number of women were entering managerial and professional occupations. However, not all women in the United States have the same employment opportunities; economic security varies depending on the state where one lives.

The brief first presents states’ overall rankings on the Index and then discusses trends on the component indicators among the best and worst ranked states. It concludes with state- and national-level policy recommendations aimed at improving women’s economic progress.