women

COVID-19 and the disappearance of millions of working women

If it wasn’t clear before this month’s job numbers, it is now: the pandemic is turning back the clock for women.

In September, more than 1.1 million workers left the labor force, meaning they were no longer working or looking for work. A full 80 percent of those workers were women, with Latinas especially overrepresented. In fact, a net 2.65 million women have left the labor force since February. These numbers are unprecedented. Before this year, January 1958 held the record for women’s labor force losses. In that month 62 years ago, 550,000 women left the labor force — hundreds of thousands fewer than this September. 

Alternatively, if we look at labor force participation rates, 56.8 percent of women were in the labor force in September, compared to 59.2 percent in February. The current rate was last seen late in the Reagan administration. We have lost more than a generation

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