Holding Up Half the Sky: Mothers as Workers, Primary Caregivers, & Breadwinners During COVID-19
- ID: Q081
In the United States, women now make up more than 50 percent of the workforce, reflecting growth in health care, education, and service sectors over the last decade. The decline of the wages and real earnings of all workers over time coupled with the rise in cost of living expenses, such as housing, means that the income and earnings of women are critical to the overall economic security and wellbeing of families.
COVID-19 and its impact has exposed the fragility of the U.S. economy and the healthcare system. It has also highlighted the vulnerability of many working families, particularly those headed by women. Since the start of the pandemic, the number of jobless or unemployment claims have reached 30 million, and will continue to grow. Women, because of their over-representation in the service sector, have been disproportionately impacted, shouldering nearly 60 percent of job loss.
The loss of jobs in sectors dominated by women will have a devastating impact of families, especially those headed by single mothers or where women are the primary or co-breadwinner. One in two of more than 30 million families in the U.S. with children under the age of 18 have a breadwinner mother, who contributes at least 40 percent of the earnings to the household.