‘Historic and unprecedented’: Women have been hit hardest by coronavirus layoffs

In The News

By Leticia Miranda

Women who work entered the year on a high note, with sky-high employment numbers thanks, in part, to the rapid expansion of industries such as health care and education. However, the impact of the coronavirus has wiped out nearly all of women’s gains in the workforce over the last decade — leading some economists to call the current crisis a “she-cession.”

“This is historic and unprecedented,” said C. Nicole Mason, president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “Women have never been the face of the economic impact in terms of job loss. This is really uncharted territory.”

While the country’s two largest economic crises — the Great Depression and the 2008 recession — left more men than women unemployed, women have been disproportionately affected by job losses as a result of the coronavirus, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In April, the unemployment rate for women increased to almost 3 percentage points above the rate for men — 16.2 percent compared with 13.5 percent, according to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data.

Young workers and women of color have seen consistently high unemployment rates because they are more likely to work in leisure and retail industries, which have been pummeled by stay-at-home orders to curb new coronavirus cases, according to the analysis.

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