More than a year into this pandemic, roughly 10 million Americans still unable to return to their jobs. Among those continuing to struggle the most with workforce re-entry are women.
Experts have pointed to this troubling trend for months, and now, trends show it has hit its possible worst point last month when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released December’s Employment Situation Summary.
“What we did not expect at all was that every single job that was lost was going to belong to a woman,” said Jasmine Tucker with the National Women’s Law Clinic. "Men gained 16,000 jobs and women lost 156,000 jobs, which gave us a net of 140,000 jobs. That was a big surprise.”
Essentially, every net job loss in the U.S. in December belonged to a woman. December’s job loss for women came after nine months of consistent disproportionate job loss for women when compared to their male counterparts.
Researchers, such as Tucker, believe the job loss is related to two main factors. The first being women having to leave the workforce to care for children at home.
“If you have two earners, and one has to stay home with a toddler, who is it going to be?” said Tucker. “It is going to be the lower earner.”
Women currently make, on average, 82 cents on the dollar compared to men.
The second reason for the disproportionate job loss is employers are simply letting go of more women.
“Racism and sexism is alive and well in this country and employers are making choices,” added Tucker. “This has real impacts not just now, but in the long term.”
Research shows in the long term, women with gaps in employment will likely make even less than male counterpart and will see slower career growth.
To tackle this issue, the NWLC and other organizations have been calling for Congress to invest billions in the child care industry. Doing so would make it more affordable and accessible. The faster that women are able to get their children in affordable, quality childcare, the faster they can get back to work. However, as Tucker pointed out, employers have to be on board with re-hiring more women.
“We have to hold employers accountable. We have to hold their feet to the fire,” said Tucker.