New York (CNN Business)Women held slightly more jobs than men in December — the first time that's happened in nearly a decade.
The numbers are super close, with women holding 50.04% of American jobs, but economists note it's a data point worth watching because it could mark a turning point in the US labor market.
Meanwhile, jobs in the health care sector, which employs more women than men, have been on an upswing. In 2019, for example, 399,000 health care jobs were added to the US economy, more than in any other sector. In contrast, the manufacturing sector added only 46,000 jobs and construction added 151,000 jobs last year.
It's also why women's job numbers are expected to keep growing.
The gender split of workers is not evenly divided across sectors, and it shows up in certain professions at different intervals. For example, "in recessions in general, men lose more jobs than women," said Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. That is because jobs in cyclical sectors like industrials and energy tend to employ more men than women, and are often the first to dwindle in a downturn.
In the last recession following the 2008 financial crisis, jobs related to the housing boom were particularly affected.
The construction industry, which remains male dominated, lost more than 2 million jobs
between its 2006 peak and its low in 2011.
Hovering around 50/50
The Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show that women held about half of all jobs in the last three months of 2019. In October and November, they were just below half.
In December, however, women held 76.25 million
out of America's 152.38 million
jobs, pushing women to the 50.04% mark, the first time it's nudged above the halfway mark since 2010.
But the margin is so narrow that the BLS rounds the gender split up to 50/50.
Aside from sectors being a factor, there's another reason women may be inching ahead: They're slightly more likely than men to hold two or more jobs.