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New data from last month's US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows what many have suspected for months: Since the pandemic started, more women than men are losing jobs. In fact, in December, women accounted for all the job losses that month, losing 156,000 jobs in total, while men gained 16,000 jobs.
All job loss is bad, and this shouldn't be a competition among genders, but these numbers are startling. In addition, Black and Latina women lost more jobs than White women, who made gains.
Overall, women have lost 5.4 million jobs since this started nearly a year ago last February. Men have lost 4.4 million jobs since the pandemic began. News sources suggest "That gap is in large part due to steep job losses in three sectors: education — which remains a female-dominated industry — hospitality and retail, particularly clothing and accessories stores. All of these industries have been hammered by the pandemic."
"It's devastating," Emily Martin, NWLC's vice president for education and workplace justice told CNBC Make It. "[A]nd I'm concerned that it may have devastating effects for months and years to come."
AARP released a list of the industries hardest-hit by the pandemic. They included: Hospitality and leisure jobs, support for jobs in mining and oil, travel and transportation jobs, construction jobs, movie industry jobs, dry cleaning and other personal service jobs, self employed jobs, jobs manufacturing food or clothing. Many of these jobs, including hospitality, travel, personal service, and clothing manufacturing, are often dominated by women.
Since the 1960's women have made slow but steady gains in the workforce. Pew Research has analyzed this trend for decades. Since 2000 alone, the number of women in the workforce with a college degree doubled. According to Catalyst, the number of women in the workforce in total "peaked in 1999 at about 60.0% and has been declining since then. Men's labor force participation has decreased since the 1950s."
The job numbers from December about women stands in stark contrast to the gender parity in the economy even a year ago. Twelve months ago, for a brief period of time, women "held more jobs than men in the US economy."
The US and global economies have been hit hard by the lockdowns instituted when COVID-19 began to spread. In December 2020, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, "In July, 31.3 million people reported that they had been unable to work at some point in the last 4 weeks because their employer closed or lost business due to the coronavirus pandemic—that is, they did not work at all or worked fewer hours. This figure was down from 40.4 million in June and 49.8 million in May."
The Commonwealth Fund reports that "as many as 7.7 million workers lost jobs" with employer health coverage as of June 2020 due to the recession. With dependents, they estimate that number has actually affected 14.6 million affected people. As of September, 12.6 million people in the US were counted as unemployed.