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'She-cession' tied to pandemic continues to impact women

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Posted at 5:23 PM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 19:53:23-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — The disproportionate economic impact of the pandemic on women led some experts to dub the events of the past year a "she-cession."

While many women have returned to the workforce, data shows the recovery is far from complete.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.6 million women left the workforce between February 2020 and June 2021.

The agency's latest jobs report shows women's labor force participation as of June 2021 sits at 57.5 percent, which is still below the pre-pandemic level of 59.2 percent.

An analysis by the National Women's Law Center found that, before the pandemic, women's labor force participation had not been as low as 57.5% since 1989.

While women in general have been disproportionately impacted in the COVID-19 economy, the effects are especially pronounced for Black and Latina women.

For example, a closer look at employment-to-population ratios reveals Black and Latinx women suffered greater employment losses from February 2020 to June 2021.

Meanwhile, working moms are dealing with unique challenges, such as the cost and availability of child care, in their decisions to return to the office or stay home.

41 Action News heard about these concerns from moms all over the Kansas City area over the past few months.

"I could do food service, I could do those things, but I'd have to work three, four jobs, to pay for my home, to pay for food for my children, to pay their insurance," Cynthia Shively, a single mother of three, said in May.

Devon Torrez, a Gladstone mom, was able to leave her job as a parole officer because her husband earned more. She described the relief of no longer having to juggle work with remote learning.

"I am definitely less stressed than I was when I was working and trying to do the school stuff with them," she said in May.

As the pandemic recedes, the economic effects will be long-lasting, experts say. There's particular concern about the impact on the gender wage gap.

Data from 2019 shows that in both Kansas and Missouri, women were only earning about 80 cents for every dollar men made.