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While the economy is rebounding slowly and the U.S. is gradually adding more jobs 4.5 million women remain out of work compared with 3.7 million men. Valerie Wilson, director of race, ethnicity and economy at the Economic Policy Review joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss why women, especially women of color, continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Yesterday's jobs report showed that only a little over one quarter of the one million jobs economists predicted were actually added in April.
And while the economy may be rebounding slowly, joblessness is impacting women more. There are 4.5 million women still out of work, compared to 3.7 million men.
For more on the unemployment numbers for women, I spoke with Valerie Wilson, director of race, ethnicity and economy at the Economic Policy Institute – a non-profit, non-partisan think tank.
Here we are kind of heading into the second Mother's Day during a pandemic and moms, but women more generally, have been bearing the brunt of the economic costs, haven't they?
Yes, absolutely. You know, when the recession started, when the pandemic started, some of the industries that were hardest hit were the industries that disproportionately employ women. That includes leisure and hospitality, the public sector and even health care to a certain extent.
And then when it kind of went beyond those and we saw sort of the economic ripple effects happening in one community after another, we saw job losses also translate into what happened in the household and who decided who was going to stick around to take care of the kids.
Child care responsibilities disproportionately fall on women. And so at a time when everyone was home, children and parents, women clearly took on more of those responsibilities, but they took on those responsibilities at the same time that they would usually be working. So there was some difficult tradeoffs.
And that translates into whether being on that kind of corporate track or what's also known as the mommy track. Right. I mean, that that can have longer term consequences even if you're able to come back to jobs full time.
Yeah, being outside of the workforce for an extended period of time definitely has costs associated with that. Whether or not women reenter the workforce in a similar kind of job that they had before that period of time is time when you're not earning anything. And so it's an interruption in their earnings that also is difficult to make up, especially since women already experience a gender pay gap.
And what are we seeing in terms of the employment numbers and the jobs numbers that come out? Is there still a level of inequity here?
When we look across different racial and ethnic groups in particular, we see that the pace of the recovery is definitely uneven. The Black unemployment rate is still nearly 10 percent, while the Latino unemployment rate is just under eight percent and the white unemployment rate is closer to five percent. So although at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone's unemployment rates rose by roughly the same amount, they are not falling by the same amount as this recovery continues.
Is there any kind of a silver lining here? I mean, do we have a better understanding of the gender normative roles that we've been playing in the households? Who's taking care of the kids and how really hard it is to take care of children?
I mean, I would hope so. I would hope that there's more awareness of what it takes. And so, you know, I hope as a nation, while we've all been at home, mothers and fathers together, in households where there is only a mother are only a father, I would hope the broader community of this society appreciates the work that women do and in particular, our care workers.
Valerie Wilson from the Economic Policy Institute, thanks so much.
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