Women lost 156,000 jobs in the month of December while men gained 16,000 jobs, underscoring how the pandemic-fueled rise in unemployment is disproportionately hitting women.
An analysis from the National Women’s Law Center shows that women essentially accounted for the 140,000 lost jobs the economy recorded in December. It’s the first time the economy has shed jobs since the height of the pandemic.
Women have also lost the majority of the net 9.8 million jobs lost since February, just before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The unemployment rate for women and men over 20 is statistically the same, with 6.3 percent among women and 6.4 percent among women.
However, the job report represents an erosion of the state of employment in early 2020, when the workforce had slightly more women than men for the first time in a decade, according to CNBC. Women’s overall unemployment rate has nearly doubled compared to this point in 2020.
Emily Martin, NWLC’s vice president for education and workplace justice, told CNBC that the group expected to see a decline amid a resurgence of the coronavirus in the U.S. However, she said, the group’s experts were “shocked” at the disproportionate impact on women.
In certain cases, the losses affected women even more heavily when broken down by sector.
Women account for 57.5 percent of the government workforce but comprised 91.1 percent of the 45,000 government jobs lost in December.
Women make up 48.5 percent of the retail workforce but made up just 44 percent of the gains in the sector in December.
The disparity was even more dramatic among Black and Latina women, who had unemployment rates of 8.4 percent and 9.1 percent last month compared with 5.7 percent for white women.
Martin told CNBC she was concerned that the ongoing pandemic and its economic fallout “may have devastating effects for months and years to come” on women’s workforce participation.
“We know that those long-term spells of unemployment make it hard to find another job and it also means that when you do find another job, your wages are likely to be lower,” she added. “So the fact that women are getting hit so hard in this recession really threatens to widen the gender wage gap going forward.”