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Women Accounted For All Job Losses In December, Report Finds

The economic repercussions of the pandemic have disproportionately affected women, who account for a large majority of the workforce in industries shut down during the pandemic.

In December, 2 in 5 unemployed women 20 and older had been out of a job for six months or more, the NWLC found. | Getty Images
In December, 2 in 5 unemployed women 20 and older had been out of a job for six months or more, the NWLC found. | Getty Images

A new analysis of government data showed that all of December’s 140,000 reported job losses in the U.S. were held by women. 

In a report by the National Women’s Law Center, the organization analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that show 140,000 net jobs were lost in December. The data showed that women lost 156,000 jobs, and men gained 16,000 jobs in December. According to the report, there “were nearly 2.1 million fewer women in the labor force in December than there were in February.”

Of those women, Black and Latinx women have suffered the most from the job losses — more than 8.4% of Black women over the age of 20 and 9.1% of Latinx women remained unemployed in December. To compare, 5.8% of white men aged 20 and older were unemployed in the same month, according to the NWLC. 

Since the pandemic forced people to stay inside, many parents, particularly women, became full-time caretakers as schools and daycare centers shut down, and neighbors and relatives were no longer an option for babysitting due to social distancing guidelines. On top of that, industries that are predominantly made up of women experienced a significant number of job losses including leisure and hospitality, retail, and state and local government jobs as a result of the pandemic. 

According to the analysis, between January and December 2020, “nearly 2.1 million women left the labor force, including 564,000 Black women and 317,000 Latinas.”

In a study from Northwestern University released in April 2020, researchers wrote that the “effects of the crisis on working mothers are likely to be persistent” and could widen the gender gap in the workplace even further than it was before the pandemic. 

“Taken together, these factors suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a disproportionate negative effect on women and their employment opportunities. The effects of this shock are likely to outlast the actual epidemic,” researchers wrote. “Workers who lose jobs now forgo returns to experience and are likely to have less secure employment in the future.”

By December, 2 in 5 unemployed women 20 and older had been out of a job for six months or more, the NWLC found. 

“We know that those long-term spells of unemployment make it hard to find another job and it also means that when you do find another job, your wages are likely to be lower,” Emily Martin, NWLC’s vice president for education and workplace justice told CNBC. “So the fact that women are getting hit so hard in this recession really threatens to widen the gender wage gap going forward.”

The pandemic is not slowing down, even as vaccines continue being rolled out, as the COVID-19 virus continues to surge in the U.S. Last week, the U.S. saw its highest-ever number of deaths in one day at more than 4,000. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, more than 220,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the U.S. on Sunday.