In fact, it’s even worse than that: Technically, women accounted for over 111% of the jobs lost last month. The US economy lost 140,000 net jobs in December, the first month since April when the total wage bill fell, the Department of Labor said Friday. But women lost 156,000 total jobs during the month, while men gained 16,000 jobs, according to to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).
The government’s gloomy monthly report, last outing under President Trump, shows the continuing wreckage of the pandemic in the US economy – and the extent to which this damage has been felt by women, especially women of color. Black and Latin women working in retail, restaurant and other “essential” service sectors, often for very low salary, have been disproportionately laid off due to pandemic lockdowns and business closures. Last month, as worsening coronavirus victims led to further closures, leisure and hospitality employers cut 498,000 jobs, nearly 57% of which were held by women. (These losses were only partially offset by net job gains in other industries, including the holiday retail sector.)
“We knew, if and when there was a resurgence of the virus, that these industries were going to be very vulnerable to job cuts again,” says Emily Martin, vice president of education and workplace justice at the CLFN.
Since February, women have lost 5.4 million net jobs, or 55% of the more than 9.8 million U.S. jobs that have been lost since February, according to the NWLC. Meanwhile, the overwhelming burden of childcare and distance learning has weighed much more heavily on mothers than on fathers, leading many women to stop working or even look for work. . Almost 2.1 million women have abandoned of the workforce fully since February, which means they are not looking for a job.
Last month alone, 154,000 black women left the workforce – the biggest drop in a month among this cohort since the pandemic began in March and April.
“This crisis continues to have a racially disparate impact and is really affecting black women and Latinas who do jobs that we cannot do at home,” Martin says. “If you have a low-paying service job, you can’t work from home and try to take care of your kids between conference calls. These are jobs where, if you have a caregiving crisis, you may have to leave the workforce altogether.
The unemployment rates for adult black and Latin women (20 and over) in December were 8.4% and 9.1%, respectively, compared to the unemployment rate for adult white men of 5.8%, according to the NWLC. The overall unemployment rate in the United States was 6.7% in December.
Beyond the current damage to the finances and livelihoods of working women, economists and analysts are concerned about long term impact on their economic health and future income. Almost 40% of unemployed women in December had been out of work for six months or more, according to the NWLC, and “we know from past recessions that the longer you are out of work, the more likely your pay is to fall. when you find a job, ”says Martin.
“The impact of this crisis on women will be an impact they will feel economically for years to come,” she adds. “We are really at risk of widening the gender and racial wage gap – and this has huge implications for the financial security of women and families who depend on women.”
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