In 2020, for the second time in history, women held more jobs than men in the U.S. economy, but that all changed again when the pandemic hit. Data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 140,000 jobs were lost in December and women held all of those positions.
Not only that, but women actually lost 156,000 jobs overall during December, while men gained 16,000 jobs, according to the National Women's Law Center (NWLC).
According to the report, women also closed out 2020 with 5.4 million less jobs than they had in February before the pandemic hit. Men lost 4.4 million jobs in the same amount of time. Women of color are bearing the brunt of those numbers.
Black and Latinas working in essential jobs and in places like retail and restaurants were disproportionately laid off during the pandemic, according to the NWLC.
"This crisis continues to have a racially disparate impact, and to really hit hardest Black women and Latinas who are doing jobs we can't do from home,” Emily Martin, vice president for education and workplace justice at the NWLC, told Fortune. "If you are in a low-wage service sector job, you're not able to work from home and try to take care of your kids in between conference calls. Those are jobs where, if you have a caregiving crisis, you may just have to leave the workforce entirely.”
Many are worried about the long term impacts the pandemic will have on employment. Women hadn't held more jobs than men since a short period in 2009-2010. Now, according to statistics, 40% of women who were unemployed in December had been without for six or more months.
"We know from past recessions that the longer you're out of work, the more likely it is to depress your wages when you do get a job again," Martin added. "The impact on women of this crisis is going to be one that they feel economically for years to come.”