WASHINGTON – This Sunday marks the second Mother’s Day in a row that has been tainted by COVID and, although things are clearly improving this year, Data Upload is using today to examine the economic and societal impacts of what people called the “She- session.” “
The pandemic hit the U.S. economy, cutting jobs across all fields, but, as we noted, some workers faced a more difficult path – and women faced special challenges.
Many of the jobs lost in the service sector – in businesses like restaurants and hotels – were held by women. And many mothers with children at home have struggled to balance work and family life when schools switched to distance learning. Add it all up and you see just how much more difficult the economic downturn has been for women and moms in particular.
More than a year after the start of the COVID crisis, the situation looks much better on the surface, but it comes after some very difficult months.
Unemployment is down for everyone, of course, as vaccines spread and infection rates plummet, and April figures show that women, at 5.8%, s ‘come out a little better than men, with an overall rate of 6.3%.
Even if the data shows a rosier picture now, however, look at the challenges for women over the past year. In April 2020, the unemployment rate for women was 16.1%, two and a half points higher than that of men.
And remember, these “percentage points” are just data points. Each of them represents over a million people, so that gap was significant.
For parents, the pandemic has presented additional challenges, such as how to raise and educate children in a COVID world. The data suggests that mothers faced deeper impacts on the labor market.
According to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, the number of mothers who stopped looking for work during the height of the pandemic has reached almost 30% and has increased more than the number of fathers.
There may be a number of factors that have pushed mothers out of the workforce, from a lack of available positions to health issues related to the virus, but it is impossible to ignore the impact of having young children. at home.
As many Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools and daycares have shifted to distance learning, parents increasingly have to take on the role of educating their children at home and often this task falls to the parents. mothers. For parents of younger children, who need more supervision, the work was even more complicated and intense.
And there are impacts that cannot be seen in unemployment or the number of jobs. Even among mothers and fathers who kept their jobs during the pandemic, “telecommuting” mothers took on a greater share of child care duties, according to data from the Pew Research Center.
Among mothers who work from home, 36% said they had a lot of childcare responsibilities in addition to their other job while working from home – 30% said they had childcare responsibilities children. The impacts were lighter for telecommuting fathers. Only 16 percent of them said they had a lot of childcare, less than half the figure for mothers, while 48 percent of fathers said they had some responsibilities.
More than a year after the start of the pandemic, there are many bright signs emerging this spring. Vaccinated families can get together for brunch or a picnic with mom. And the employment numbers look better for everyone – including mothers, especially as school reopens and seems to forecast a more normal drop.
But turning the page on COVID-19 will likely take time. Some of these economic and societal impacts are likely to last for some time. And as Congress shifts its attention to “social infrastructure” issues such as family leave, these numbers and the stories behind them will stay fresh in people’s minds and likely play a part in the debate.