Many Women and Mothers Let Go During to the Pandemic

Many Women and Mothers Let Go During to the Pandemic

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing women out of the workforce at an alarming rate. In September, for example, about 617,000 women left the workforce, compared to 78,000 men (half the women were between the ages of 35 and 44). Although many more women than men are staying home to care for their children during school closures, women have lost an excessive number of jobs in the hospitality, retail, and small business sector.

Unfortunately, a large number of workers losing jobs are termed “unpartnered,” as reported in new data from the Pew Research Center. “Unpartnered” refers to those who have either never married, not living with a partner, report their spouse is absent, or are separated or widowed. (“Partnered” refers to same or opposite sex married couples a partner/cohabiter couple with the spouse present. Those not considered in the count are full-time or part-time workers who are not absent from work for any reason, or are unemployed but actively looking for work.

Pew researchrs report “In September 2020, six months since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, 67.4% of unpartnered mothers with children younger than 18 at home were working…compared with 76.1% in September 2019. This 9 percentage point drop is the largest among all groups of parents, partnered or not.” For mothers with children under the age of 5, the drop is significantly greater.

Black and Hispanic mothers who are working dropped by nearly two times the rate as White mothers. These statistics largely reflect the demographic characteristics of “unpartnered” mothers, with Black single mothers making up 31,4% of the population in September 2020, compared with only 12.2% of all single mothers.

Since the start of the pandemic, women have outnumbered men in job losses – with women of color and younger women, as well as those without college educations being hardest hit. This and other evidence continues to mount that the pandemic may do long-term damage to the progress toward gender equity, particularly in the workforce, and especially for single mothers.

“There’s a big financial impact and compounding factor when you actually step out of the workforce,” says Mary Beth Ferrante, the CEO of WRK/360, which advises companies on how to retain working parents. She says that many women who decide to leave the workforce, temporarily or permanently, for child-care reasons are mid-career at the point where they should be moving into leadership roles. “…long-term, we’re going to continue to see those gaps in leadership pipelines.”

There is great opportunity now for change beginning now – things like hiring and promotion practices, compensation, opportunities for job training, scheduling flexibility, and building a more inclusive workplace are potential adjustments that can have lasting impact. Even though COVID-19 has exacerbated the inequities of our society, business and community leaders with broad constituencies can begin to shift the paradigm.

For Chrysalis, this is an even greater opportunity to increase awareness of using the “gender lens” in all we do – and to help decision-makers understand how they can build a more equitable – and profitable future for everyone.

LEGAL MOMENTUM has created a toolkit for women’s economic equality that provides a checklist of rights, protections, and advocacy (based on laws in New York). Take a look at the list (, and if you’re interested, investigate more thoroughly the full report here.