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Wednesday, March 10, 1999 Published at 23:51 GMT

Business: The Economy

Working women on the increase

There are more working mothers on the factory floor

The number of working women has increased over the past decade - with a marked rise in mothers with young children returning to their jobs.

Women now comprise 44% of the labour force, up from 42% in 1988, according to a report by the Office for National Statistics.

[ image: Most part-time workers are women]
Most part-time workers are women
Four out of five part-time workers were women, an increase of 13%, the report says.

The economic activity rate for women with children aged under five rose from 45% in 1988 to 55% last year, while the number of women in work went up from 900,000 over the past 10 years to 11.5 million.

More than half of women with jobs worked in clerical and sales jobs or in personal services.

The proportion of women who worked during their pregnancy and returned to their job within a year of having their child has also increased dramatically in recent years, the report shows.

In 1979 only 24% of women returned to work after having a baby, but this figure rose to 67% by 1996.

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