Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, a surge of women in the United States have left the workforce due to multiple service-industry setbacks and childcare needs following school and daycare facility closures. A Census Bureau report indicated that approximately 1.4 million mothers remained out of the workforce in January, while February’s job report showed that participation among prime-aged women only improved slightly.
Positions in hospitality, food service, healthcare, teaching, and education are predominantly held by women. Due to personal demands, quarantine restrictions, and emergency lockdowns posed by the pandemic, four times as many women left the workforce last fall compared to men. Now, economists are dubbing this labor-market gender gap as the country’s first female recession.
Women who have exited the workforce continue to face an array of added hurdles that could make it more difficult for them to return to work in the future. However, global economic growth is on the horizon and could receive a $20 trillion boost if women are educated at the same levels and hold the same number of jobs as men.
According to this recent analysis that examines 36 developed and emerging economies, policy changes that result in more women entering the workforce — such as those that bolster female access to secondary education, childcare, and flexible work arrangements — have the potential to “light a fire” under global growth over the next thirty years. The report was published by Bloomberg Economists Adriana Dupita, Abhishek Gupta and Tom Orlik.
“Just as important, countries need to think and redesign their economies to make sure the economy will be able to welcome the additional labor force with productive jobs,” said Adriana Dupita, Bloomberg Economist. “In many countries, barriers to women’s education and employment are deeply entrenched.”
Globally, 58.4% of women between the ages of 25 years old and 64 years old are employed, compared to the 92.1% of men. This study is the latest evidence that closing labor-market gender gaps is crucial for the economy as it recovers from the pandemic and beyond.
With President Joe Biden directing states to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May, job hiring could be on the rise, prompting focus on the impending need to close this workforce gender gap.
Information provided by Employee Benefit News.