Warning, dire news ahead: according to a new analysis by the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), all of the 140,000 jobs lost in the U.S. last month belonged to women. To be even more specific, the NWLC noted that, throughout December, men actually gained about 16,000 jobs while women lost around 156,000. Which means that the female workforce accounts for 111% of December's employment losses.
"There were nearly 2.1 million fewer women in the labor force in December than there were in February, before the pandemic started," reads the center's analysis. That is incredibly, unbelievably and remarkably sad.
Of course, the advent of a global pandemic that has quite literally upended everyone's way of life and tragically disrupted economic circles around the world has repercussions that go beyond job opportunities. That being said, measuring the effects of COVID-19 through the lens of December's job-related numbers based on official U.S. government data makes one thing clear (if it wasn't already): the gender gap is real.
But there's more: the recession seems to have disproportionally affected women of color most strikingly. According to the NWLC's analysis, "154,000 Black women left the labor force last month, marking the largest one-month drop in their labor force size since March and April 2020." Overall, "more than 1 in 12 Black women ages 20 ad over and about 1 in 11 Latinas remained unemployed."
The length of unemployment is also mind-boggling. According to the data, many folks have been out of work throughout most of the COVID-19 crisis. In specific, almost 40% of women 20 and over that were unemployed in December had been out of work for 6 months or longer. For Asians, that number jumps to 44%; for Black women, it reaches 41% and for Latinas, it is around 38%.
Although a successful vaccine rollout will undoubtedly help the situation, the stark differences in effects sustained by men and women throughout the past few months demand wider, more direct and systemic changes to be put into place. Here's to hoping those will actually happen in the near future.
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