Website fights trend of "disappearing" women from workforce

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On Thursday, the unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent, the lowest in seven years, but it's a mixed picture. The Labor Department says 223,000 jobs were created in June--fairly healthy. But hourly wages were flat. And the unemployment rate fell for the wrong reason.

The unemployment rate dropped in June, but only because more people dropped out of the workforce. The so called labor force participation rate is now at its worst level since 1977.

Katharine Zaleski, 34, is trying to change that. She's president of Power to Fly, a new hiring website for women who want to work remotely from home.

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Katharine Zaleski (left) and Milena Berry (right) are founders of a new hiring website Power to Fly that helps women who want to work remotely from home.

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Zaleski and her co-founder, Milena Berry, have no office space.

"It's very much a brand built around placing more women in jobs," Berry said.

They and their 35 employees all work remotely themselves.

"The percentage of women in the workforce is going down in the U.S. because we're telling women that they need to be in the office all the time and that's clearly not working," Zaleski said.

In 2000, nearly 59 percent of women 20 and older were employed, an all time high. But since then that ratio has fallen back to 55 percent.

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Nearly 1,000 companies have posted job listings on Power to Fly including Hearst, Buzzfeed and the Washington Post, for positions in technology, marketing, sales and customer service.

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"A lot of women I know disappear in their thirties because they physically cannot be in the office," Zalenski said.

Nearly 1,000 companies have posted job listings on Power to Fly including Hearst, Buzzfeed and the Washington Post, for positions in technology, marketing, sales and customer service. And the website is growing so quickly, Power to Fly itself, plans to hire another 60 workers over the next six months.

"It's the idea that you can be just as productive, just as valuable as a team member, but you can do it remotely," Zalenski added.

It's not just women who've been withdrawing from the job market. Only 71 percent of men are now participating in the labor force. That's an all time low.

  • Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"