According to new data, 140,000 jobs were lost in December, signaling the pandemic’s devastating effect on the economy is turning, but a deeper dive shows job losses are crushing women.
It’s not surprising that women are being hit harder in the job market. Women are more likely to hold part-time jobs and many women drop out of the job market once having children. The pandemic, however, has only widened the gender gap in the workplace.
Black and Latina women are sharing the brunt job losses. Typically, many work in hourly positions that have few benefits such as health and paid sick leave. Many part-time or hourly workers also don’t have the ability to telecommute and some have had to choose between working and taking care of children due to school and child care closures.
Educated, white women are still doing well when compared to other races, but even they are suffering as the pandemic draws closer to its one-year anniversary. With the pandemic showing no signs of ending, it’s likely to get worse.
“We don’t have the pandemic under control. Schools and daycares are still closing, and we know that’s what’s impacting women’s ability to reenter the workforce and sustain jobs,” said C Nicole Mason,president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in an interview with CNN.
At the beginning of 2020, women were thriving in the job market, holding more jobs than men overall. However, since the pandemic began, they’ve have lost 5.4 million jobs while men have lost 4.4, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even in December, men overall gained 16,000 jobs.
The gap in job losses can be attributed to the gap- between male and female workers in education, hospitality and retail. All three of these industries are dominated by women and have been hit harder than other industries.
“Those sectors are less likely to have flexibility, so when employers are inflexible or women can’t come to work because of caregiving responsibilities — they have to exit the workforce,” said C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research said.
Additionally, last month restaurants and bars were among the industries that cut the most jobs. The bar and restaurant industry is also largely female centric.