The “She-cession”: why the coronaconomy is hitting women harder than men

Friday, March 5, 2021 by Robinhood Snacks |

Throw down the stats... Women are taking the biggest economic slam from the pandemic. As of December, women accounted for 55% of the 9.6M net jobs lost in 2020. And nearly half of the 12.1M jobs lost among women from February to April haven’t returned. This January, the unemployment rate for women and men was about the same (just over 6%). But that’s largely because women are dropping out of the labor force at higher rates. People who stop searching for a job aren’t considered unemployed.

  • 2.5M+ women have dropped out of the labor force between February 2020 and this January, compared to ~1.8M men.
  • 56%: Women’s labor force participation rate, which is at its lowest level since 1987. Women of color have been especially affected.
  • -4.8%: This January, there were 4.8% fewer Black women in the labor force than a year ago — compared with a 3.1% drop for white women.

Not your typical recession... Historically, men have been hit harder by recessions. “Normal” recessions tend to strike hardest in sectors with high male employment (think: construction and manufacturing). That’s why the ‘08 financial crisis was referred to as a “mancession.” The coronaconomy reversed this trend into a “she-cession.” Some major reasons why:

  • Job types: Women are overrepresented in high-contact industries like dining, retail, education, and travel. These have been majorly hit by lockdowns and social distancing.
  • Childcare: With schools closed, women took on a larger share of extra childcare duties than men — and many have left jobs to do so.

It’s getting harder to bring back lost jobs... especially those lost among women. The overall pace of recovery has slowed each month since June. Schools are still closed in many parts of the US, and thousands of businesses that largely employed women have permanently closed or scaled back operations (think: airlines, restaurants, and malls). Each month that women stay unemployed or out of the labor force makes it harder to find a job. But the vaccine rollout and upcoming stimulus package could help speed things up. The February jobs report drops today, so we’ll see if there’s any improvement.