Contact: Lea Woods | 202-785-5100 |

Women no longer workforce majority after sustained job losses wipe out economic gains.

Washington, DC — Unemployment data released May 8, 2020 show mounting job losses for both women and men. Women continue to lose a disproportionate number of jobs, accounting for 55 percent of the 20.5 million jobs lost in April and 60 percent of the more than 700,000 jobs lost in March. In April alone, women’s job losses were five times higher than the total decline in women’s employment during the Great Recession. As a result of this staggering reduction in employment, women are now less than half (49.2 percent) of all workers on payroll.

Job losses are most extreme in sectors in which women comprise a majority of the workforce. As was the case in March, the most severe job losses were in the Leisure and Hospitality sector, where women lost 4.4 million jobs, compared with 3.7 million jobs lost by men.

The economic downturn has been particularly devastating for communities that were already economically vulnerable after the Great Recession. Women of color are experiencing the greatest rates of unemployment, at 16.4 percent for Black women and 20.2 percent for Hispanic women, compared with 12.4 percent for White men. The unemployment rate for single mothers has tripled, with more single mothers losing more than one million jobs since February.

Top 5 sectors with biggest job losses for women

  • Leisure and Hospitality (4,430,000)
  • Education and Health Services (2,202,000)
  • Retail Trade (1,316,000)
  • Professional and Business Services (1,143,000)
  • Other Services (860,000)

About the Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Founded in 1987, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research is the nation’s pre-eminent think tank committed to winning economic equity for all women and eliminating structural and institutional barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce and society.

IWPR builds knowledge and evidence to support policies that help grow women’s economic power and influence in society, close inequality gaps, and improve the economic security and well-being of families.