Women Made Up 100% of the Jobs Lost in December

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While the COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be catastrophic for so many people and families, one of the most impacted groups has been women — specifically women of color.

According to new data released last week by the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), all of the 156,000 jobs lost in America in December 2020 were held by women — you read that right, 100% — while men gained 16,000 jobs in the same month.

"We expected that when there was a resurgence of the virus that we would see women losing the jobs they had gained over the last few months,” Emily Martin, NWLC’s vice president for education and workplace justice, told CNBC. She also added that, still, she was “shocked” to see that “women lost 100% of the jobs” in December.

Of the jobs lost by women, a majority of them were women of color.

A Total Disaster — and Then Some

“The December job loss was definitely concentrated among Black and Hispanic women. No question,” Heidi Shierholz, an economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute told HuffPost. “For white women, it’s a total disaster, but that’s dwarfed by what’s happening in other demographic groups.”

The NWLC's data puts the unemployment rate for women in December at 6.3%, which is nearly twice as high as it was pre-pandemic; the unemployment rate for Black women specifically is 8.45% and 9.1% for Latina women. To put that in hard numbers, in December, 154,000 Black women left the labor force entirely, which is the largest drop in the employment of that group since the pandemic began. In contrast, 200,000 white women returned to the workforce during that time.

Of the jobs lost by women, a majority of them were women of color.

Overall, 2.1 million women have been forced out or left the workforce during the pandemic while 1.7 million men experienced the same. Because the pandemic has forced people to stay home, people with jobs as "hairdressers, restaurant workers, hotel housekeepers, and retail clerks have all been thrown out of work," said an April 2020 report in HuffPost, and "women hold the majority of these jobs."

Additionally, there's the issue of childcare in the pandemic. With no available childcare to outsource, women are being forced to work from home while juggling child care and, often, housework; Lean In and McKinsey & Company’s Women in the Workplace report says mothers are "three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for the majority of housework and childcare during Covid-19." That same report suggests that "Corporate America is at a critical crossroads."

"Without bold steps, we could erase all the progress we’ve made toward gender diversity in the six years of this study," they say. "But if companies rise to the moment, we can lay the foundation for a more flexible and equitable workplace in the long-term."

Tags: Navigating the Pandemic, BIPOC, Gender Equality

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Faye Williams

Faye Williams is a cat lover based in New Jersey who enjoys traveling and spending time in nature whenever possible.  See Full Bio

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