As the economy slowly tries to recover during the coronavirus pandemic, new data shows that women are still being disproportionately impacted by today’s crisis.
Between August and September, nearly 1.1 million workers ages 20 and over dropped out of the labor force, meaning they are no longer working or looking for work. Of those workers, 865,000 of them were women, a number that is four times higher than the 216,000 men who also left the workforce, according to a National Women’s Law Center analysis.
“This is the devastating impact of the ongoing breakdown of our nation’s caregiving infrastructure in the face of Covid-19,” Emily Martin, vice president for education and workplace justice at NWLC, tells CNBC Make It. “As families across the country struggle to figure out how to keep their jobs while also making sure their children are cared for, safe and learning every day, it’s women who are being pushed out of work.”
While all women are undoubtedly feeling the brunt of today’s pandemic, Martin adds that Black women and Latinas are still seeing the highest rates of unemployment, “demonstrating the ways Covid-19 is deepening the already sharp inequities in our economy.”
Black women and Latinas both saw double digit unemployment rates in September at 11.1% and 11%, respectively, according to NWLC data. That’s compared to White men having an unemployment rate of 6.5% and White women having an unemployment rate of 6.9%.
Sherly Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer and Lean In founder, agrees that the ongoing caregiving crisis in America has a lot to do with the high number of women who are leaving the workforce. In fact, in Lean In and McKinsey & Company’s annual “Women in the Workplace” report, released earlier this week, researchers found that for the first time in the six years that the report has been released, women are leaving the workforce at higher rates than men.
Today, according to data from McKinsey & Company and Lean In, mothers are three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for a majority of housework and childcare during Covid-19. Mothers are also twice as likely as fathers to worry that their work performance is being judged negatively because of their caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic. As a result, many working mothers are feeling burned out by the overwhelming demands of both work and home.
Sandberg explains to CNBC Make It that even before the pandemic, “mothers were already working a double shift,” meaning that many working moms would finish the work day and then come home to do more housework and child care.
“Now with coronavirus, what you have is a double double shift,” she says. “You know, mothers are spending 20 more hours a week on housework and child care during coronavirus than fathers. Twenty more hours a week is half of a full-time job.”
In addition to the caregiving crisis impacting women in the workplace, data from NWLC also shows that the industries experiencing the most job losses today are industries in which women are overrepresented. Last month, for example, the economy lost a net of 182,000 state and local government jobs. While there is no gender breakdown of these job losses, data from NWLC shows that 60% of state and local government workers are women.
“Those services are critical services that help support women and their families,” Martin told CNBC Make It in July in regards to the teacher, public health worker and case worker roles that fall under state and local government jobs. “So one important policy response right now is to make sure those public sector workers can continue to stay on the job and provide the services that allow all of us to be healthy, that allow kids to go to school and that allow parents to have the support they need to be able to go to work.”
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