by Juliana Kaplan

In December 2020, the unemployment rate was 6.7%. December also saw a surprise decline of 140,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls, with 10 million Americans still unemployed. That unemployment rate is still just a percentage of the pandemic’s peak of 14.7%.

In her Tuesday confirmation hearing, Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen stressed the importance of helping small businesses and the unemployed. She said the pandemic has been “particularly brutal in its impact on minorities and on women.”

The December job report showed how devastating job losses were for the most vulnerable in the workforce. Workers who can’t work from home and lower-wage workers saw huge hits. In particular, restaurants shed 372,000 jobs. It’s part of America’s K-shaped recovery, where higher-income Americans have seen jobs and incomes grow and lower-income workers have experienced the opposite.

All of the jobs lost in December were women’s jobs, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center.
Black and Latina women were overrepresented in those losses; in December, 154,000 Black women left the labor force — the largest one-month decline since April. According to the NWLC analysis, 8.4% of Black women and 9.1% of Latinas are unemployed.

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