U.S. labor shock from pandemic hit women of color hardest; will it persist?

By Howard Schneider

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One of the positive turns that the U.S. economy took during a decade-long recovery through 2019 was a steady rise in the share of women looking for work and working.

Women’s labor force participation had declined in 2007-2009 during the Great Recession, and many economists had worried that would become permanent, weighing on growth overall as women kept their skills and efforts off the table.

When women’s participation started climbing around 2015, particularly for Blacks and Latinas, it helped boost growth and likely was a force behind the increases in household income that also began around then.

(Graphic: Labor force participation among women – https://graphics.reuters.com/GREAT-REBOOT/DATA/gjnpwjowbvw/chart.png)

The coronavirus has seized back those gains, and sparked another debate over whether reduced participation will persist.

(Graphic: Women’s labor force participation, post pandemic – https://graphics.reuters.com/GREAT-REBOOT/DATA/xlbpgjxoxvq/chart.png)

Recessions typically fall hardest on racial and ethnic minorities, due to bias as

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