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Report: 865,000 Women Left the Labor Force in September

  • Women were more than four times as likely as men to leave the U.S. labor force in September, according to the National Women’s Law Center
  • Pandemic-related job losses have hit women harder than men, and they have also been hired at a slower rate
  • Home and caregiving responsibilities have fallen chiefly on women during the pandemic, increasing the likelihood of burnout if they are trying to add work to the balance

Women were four times as likely as men to leave the workforce in September, according to a report by the National Women’s Law Center. Of the approximately 1.1 million workers ages 20 and older who stopped looking for employment in September, 865,000 were women.

The pandemic has hit female workers hard, affecting sectors such as education where they make up a larger share of employees. Women account for 53.9 percent of net job losses since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and made up just 43.3 percent of hires in the new jobs added to the economy in September. Unemployment has been more likely to affect black women, Latinas, women with disabilities, and young women.

One factor driving this trend is an ongoing caregiving crisis, as many schools rely on remote learning for at least part of the time. A separate study by McKinsey & Company and Lean In found that women were three times as likely to shoulder child care and housework, increasing the likelihood of stress and burnout if they attempted to balance a career with these responsibilities.

This exodus has raised concerns that the pandemic might reverse gains women have made in the workplace, as well as affect workplace culture since women are more likely to advocate for reforms to benefit employees.

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