As the calendar turned to 2020, women across the nation anticipated celebrating the Women’s Suffrage Centennial and the great advances women have made over the last 100 years. However, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic quickly and quietly turned back many women’s advancements, especially in the workplace. The economic and social impacts have been felt by everyone, but women have been hit disproportionately hard.
During the Great Recession from 2007 – 2009, men lost twice as many jobs as women. Not true with COVID-19’s economic downturn. In fact, this is the first U.S. recession to cause substantially more job losses for women than men. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women accounted for nearly 54% of all job losses since the pandemic began. In Florida, statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show that 52.8% of Unemployment Claimants are women. Women have been particularly likely to lose jobs in leisure and hospitality, a big piece of the Florida Economy.
It is also important to note that only those actively looking for work are included in government unemployment statistics. Those who have stopped looking for work are not counted. In September 2020 alone, 865,000 women were forced out of the labor force, and an estimated 2.2 million women have left the workforce, many with no plans to return, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Childcare poses an additional challenge to working mothers during the pandemic. Coronavirus shutdowns have closed schools and daycare centers around the country, keeping kids at home and making it even harder for mothers, who tend to provide the majority of childcare, to keep working. This additional commitment leaves women strained and overly stressed and many give up their paid jobs.
According to Misty Heggeness, Senior Advisor/Research Economist U.S. Census Bureau, “While advancements have been made over recent decades regarding women’s rights, wage equality, and participation in formal labor markets, this pandemic has made it clear that something has got to give. Moms are trying to juggle multiple responsibilities: the job they get paid to do in the formal labor market alongside the responsibilities of parenting and childcare.”
These socioeconomic changes are likely to persist long after the pandemic. According to research by the Pew Foundation, gender is also linked to how people see the post-coronavirus landscape. Women are more likely than men to say they expect their lives will remain changed in major ways (54% vs 47%).
Ewing-Nelson, C. (2020, October). Four times more women than men dropped out of the labor force in September. National Women’s Law Center.
Catalyst. (2020 December 8). The detrimental impact of Covid-19 on gender and racial equality: Quick Take. (2020, December 8). Catalyst.
M.L. Estimating the immediate impact of the COVID-19 shock on parental attachment to the labor market and the double bind of mothers. Rev Econ Household 18, 1053–1078 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11150-020-09514-x
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Unemployment Insurance. 2020. “Characteristics of Unemployment Insurance Claimants.” (Accessed November 23, 2020).