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A Federal Program Pays to Put Homemakers to Work

Job seekers at a National Career Fairs job fair in San Diego, California
Job seekers at a National Career Fairs job fair in San Diego, CaliforniaPhotograph by David Maung/Bloomberg

The 1970s are often remembered as a time of female empowerment: The feminist movement began; women entered the workforce in large numbers; the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion came down in 1973.

But for many women, the ’70s were a frightening time. Divorce rates doubled in the course of a decade, rising to half of all marriages. That, combined with an economic slump, meant many women found themselves in a position in which they had never been before: out of a job, with few marketable skills, and no one to support them.