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Women return to workforce, but recovery from job loss during the pandemic expected to take months

Piedmont Triad News

(WGHP) — It could take eight months before the number of women working returns to pre-pandemic levels, according to the National Women’s Law Center. 

“We know there was a huge exodus of women from the workforce, and it’s hard to tell how many of those women were pushed out of the labor force because they lost their jobs, because of factors intrinsic to what was happening with their employment and how much of that was kind of a pull factor from the demands they were facing at home,” said Dr. Lisa Levenstein, the director of UNCG’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. 

She says recovery for women’s careers could last years after the pandemic disruption. 

“Any interruptions in people’s labor force participation ends up showing up down the line in terms of missed promotions, wage increases. They become less senior. They miss out on training opportunities, and these things really do add up,” Levenstein explained. 

According to the National Women’s Law Center, unemployment rates have trended down in recent months, but unemployment rose for women between September and October. 

Sectors like education and health services gained 64,000 jobs nationally last month, and most of them went to women. 

“Our labor force is still significantly segregated by gender as well as by race. There are still large groups of occupations that are predominately done by women,” Levenstein said. 

Amy Bowles chose to leave her job in healthcare over a vaccine mandate in October. She knows other families making similar decisions due to family pressures. 

“I know a girl who…has a young child already. She just found out she’s pregnant with twins. That’s three kids in daycare, so she’s making the choice…it makes more sense to be at home with my children at this time,” she said. 

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