Women forgoing jobs rose for April | #healthcare | #elderly | #seniors
The number of women who dropped out of the U.S. labor force rose in April for the first time since January, signaling that the jobs recovery may be more haphazard than expected even as more schools reopen and vaccinations accelerate.
Some 165,000 women age 20 and older withdrew from the labor force, meaning they aren’t employed or searching for jobs. The total labor force of Hispanic women is down 5% since the pandemic began, the biggest shortfall of any of the major race and gender groups tracked by the Department of Labor, followed by Black women.
Women have seen disproportionate job losses during the pandemic as schools, day care and elder care facilities closed, forcing many of them to leave work to care for children, elderly parents or sick family members.
At the height of the pandemic in April of last year, the female labor force shrank dramatically but has been steadily improving in recent months.
For many mothers, the year has been stress-filled unlike any other. And for a large group of women, it’s a true financial crisis.
“We’ve lost 30 years of gains in just this short period of time,” said Lisa Cook, professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University.
She points to the labor force participation rate for women, which tumbled from 57.8% in February 2020 to 54.6% in April 2020 as widespread layoffs took place to stem the spread of covid-19, according to Federal Reserve economic data.
Roughly a year later, the rate inched up to 56.1% in March, she said, but the participation rate still had not been that low since September 1987. The peak was around 60% roughly 20 years ago.
“I did not expect the drop in labor force participation to be so stark,” Cook said.
Much of the economic disruption hit places where women work — home health care, restaurants, schools and bricks-and-mortar retail stores.
Total employment for women age 20 and older fell in April from the month before, with Hispanic and white women seeing the biggest declines.
For men and women, the unemployment rate declined for white and Asian workers while rising slightly for Black Americans. Unemployment rates remained unchanged for Hispanic workers of both genders. The gap between white and Black unemployment widened to the most since November.
Black Americans saw a big increase in labor force participation, though, indicating that more workers have returned to the labor market. The rate, 61.2%, remains the lowest among the major race groups.
Many women do their best to put positive spins on the year that no one ever imagined.
“I don’t know when I would have ever spent this much time with my children at this age,” said Patricia Adams, 35, who has three kids, ages 6 and younger.
Adams, who is able to work from her home in Southfield, Mich., even got a promotion and a raise during the pandemic.
The down side? “I’m never alone ever,” the working mother said.
“Ever,” she added for emphasis.
“The flip side is everybody is home,” she said.
Information for this article was contributed by Catarina Saraiva of Bloomberg News and by Susan Tompor of the Detroit Free Press (TNS).