While many women are shattering the glass ceiling, others are falling behind due to job loss during the pandemic.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Women's Law Center, in January 2020, women outnumbered men in the U.S. workforce but in December 2020, women accounted for all of the 156,000 jobs lost while men gained 16,000.
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Women across the nation could have never imagined what the pandemic would do to their lives. The burdens of the pandemic have fallen heavily on working women disproportionately hit from COVID economic fallout. The first blow to women was job losses in industries dominated by females.
According to the BLS, nationwide, females make up the majority of workers in the education and health services sector at 74.6% and hospitality and leisure at 50.4% both industries reported some of the largest declines in employees in 2020.
Overall, the National Women's Law Center calculated since February 2020, American women have lost an estimated 5.4 million net jobs and account for 55.0% of the overall net job losses since the start of the crisis.
The shift to remote learning and the closing of childcare centers left millions of women facing tough decisions. According to the BLS, mothers provide about 60% of childcare, another cause of women dropping out of the workforce.
For mothers with special needs, the need for childcare and to oversee remote learning presented even more challenges. The Census Bureau finding women are three times as likely as men not to be working since the pandemic due to childcare issues.
The BLS also finding another disadvantage for women is that fewer women have jobs allowing them to telecommute in the pandemic compared to men 22% for women compared to 28% for men.
The loss of jobs has fallen most heavily on low income and single mothers and is even higher for women of color with black women experiencing an average unemployment rate of 10.9% in 2020 and Latinas 11.4% compared to 7.6% for white women according to the BLS.
Studies are showing the issues pushing women out of the workforce in the pandemic will also prevent many from seeking to get back in and the job losses could severely impact earnings and prospects long term for individuals and stunt growth across the country.