By Molly Smith and Jill Shah
(Bloomberg) — School may be in session, but the dearth of child care is still proving to be a major hurdle to women reentering the U.S. labor market.
The number of women on payrolls last month fell for the first time since the winter coronavirus surge in December 2020, and the drop was even more pronounced for those age 25 to 44, who are more likely to have to school-age children. The decline was a major driver behind a slowdown in overall job growth in the country.
The jobs report released Friday came as a surprise because many anticipated that the return to school would alleviate the child-care burden, which mostly falls on mothers. The data suggest that uncertainty around the coronavirus delta variant, which has led to quarantines and a partial return to virtual learning in some cases, will continue to keep parents from seeking a job.