As we hurtle through the last weeks of Covid Summer, parents are faced with the impossible task of trying to figure out how to both work and parent from home. Unfortunately, many of those parents will have to decide between their careers and staying home to take care of their kids. And by “parents,” I mean “mothers.”
New research from the Census Bureau and Federal Reserve has found that one in five working-age adults is unemployed because covid-19 blew apart their child care arrangements, with women nearly three times more likely than men to be at home with their kids.
“I fully expect to have to choose between my family and my job of almost 10 years very soon, which really isn’t a choice,” Kelly Bebout, who has been at her job for nearly a decade, told CNN. “It will mean being unemployed for the first time in my adult life, but my family has to come first.”
Most single parents, obviously, don’t even have the luxury of making a choice. For the first several months of the pandemic, the $600 per week that boosted unemployment under the CARES Act was a crucial resource for making ends meet. But that has since ended, and no new plan from Congress is on the horizon.
In July, the unemployment rate for white women over the age of 20 was 11.1 percent, versus 9.2 percent for men. Black and Latinx women were worse off, with unemployment rates over 14 percent.
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“We know that women still shoulder the majority of the responsibility for care work. When these care work demands go up it’s totally reasonable to assume that this falls more to women than men,” Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, told CNN. “Women will see income declines, because of cutting back hours and some will just end up dropping out.”
At the end of last year, 50.4 percent of women held jobs, giving them a narrow edge over men on employment. It’s unlikely that will still be the case after the pandemic.