Why More Women Than Men Have Lost Jobs During The Pandemic

The next time you see the jobless numbers coming out of the Department of Labor, know this: The majority of those that have lost their jobs are most likely women.

Data from the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) shows that of the 701,000 job losses recorded across America between February and March, 412,288 (or about 59 percent) were women. Most of the job losses happened in the leisure and hospitality industries, where 261,000 women were laid off, and 181,000 men lost their jobs. According to IWPR, women also lost more jobs than men did across most sectors, including educational and health services, retail trade, professional and business services, and non-durable goods manufacturing. Ironically, employment opportunities for men grew in four sectors — including education (where women lost jobs), financial services, construction, and information. These numbers are even more worrisome because IWPR says they are outdated, and that the number of women who lost their jobs could be much higher.

The need for additional childcare may have contributed to job losses

This change in the demographic is new to the U.S. During the 2008 and 2009 recession, the first industries to face job losses were construction and finance, and more men lost their jobs as a result (via NPR). One analysis by VOX CEPR Policy Portal points out that the job losses could, in part, be explained by the need for additional childcare. Because schools and daycare centers have closed and grandparent assistance is not currently an option (thanks to social distancing), single parents might have been forced to quit their jobs, and according to the U.S. 2019 census, 70 percent of single parents are women. In cases where there are two parents in a household, mothers are known to step up to the plate and carry the burden of extra childcare needs. 

Diana Pearce, director of the University of Washington's Center for Women's Welfare, says women have been hit hard because they hold less secure jobs. She warns that these job losses are a sign that there could be more problems ahead, but that this can be fixed by making sure women have more access to stable jobs with better wages (via King5 News). "As we go into this recession and try to climb out of it, that we make sure that we're not reinforcing poverty level wages that will not provide enough so people are forced to choose between housing and healthcare, between paying for food and paying for childcare so that people know what they need," she said.