The link between Unemployment and Gender During the Pandemic


Unemployment Stats over the Pandemic

Colleen McMenamin, Staff Writer

Unemployment rates have skyrocketed since the epidemic started- affecting every state, demographic group, and industry, both globally and in the United States. Countless businesses have shut down completely, and many at a loss of money have had no choice but to start laying off loyal employees. Unemployment rates peaked in April of 2020, while there was still a complete shutdown, skyrocketing unemployment to 14.8%. Since then it has sliced in half, leveling out to be about 6.7% as of December 2020. Although this is most definitely affecting both men and women, concerns of unemployment specifically targeting women in the workplace have risen based on troubling statistics. 

The famous gender wage gap statistic that is quite possibly the most telling statistic of how women are still facing inequality in the workplace states that for every one dollar a man makes, a woman makes 82.3 cents (this number will rise and increase based on race). The concern is a woman in a heterosexual marriage is more likely to be laid off or quit her job to take care of kids because she is making less money than her significant other- a concern that ended up being valid in this pandemic. Based upon a New York Times article, “in 18 out of 19 industries, women filed for unemployment at higher rates than their representation in the industry.” Even in female-dominated industries, like childcare and education, the laws for reopening are much stricter in comparison to other basic societal industries, like the male-dominated business or food industry. Based upon the US Census Bureau surveys on labor market trends, women with no kids faced this statistic the most. Unemployment increased from 2% in February to 13.6% in April, while men with no kids only saw unemployment rise from 2.2% to 9.5%. 

The issue with these statistics is that in a field where women have fought or are still fighting for recognition and equal representation, a surge in unemployment rates can be many steps backward. Times even stated that “this pandemic will take our women 10 years back in the workplace”.