• Drew Dotson

Unemployment rates suggest the future is not so female

Updated: Apr 28

As the clock struck midnight to usher in the new year, many people were optimistic that 2020 would soon be a blur in the rearview mirror. Though a little hope never hurt anyone, the recently released December jobs report illustrated that people are struggling – especially women. In December, the U.S. witnessed its first loss in jobs since the early stages of the pandemic in April 2020. The numbers alone were unexpected based on the recent trends, but even more surprising was the population affected by the job loss.

The U.S. economy saw a net job loss of 140,000 in December, and more than 156,000 women became unemployed in the same time period. What does that mean? Women comprised 111% of the total jobs lost in December, with Black and Latina women being affected at the highest rates.

Citing an article by Fortune, “The unemployment rates for adult Black and Latina women (age 20 and over) in December were 8.4% and 9.1%, respectively, compared to the adult white male unemployment rate of 5.8%, according to the NWLC [National Women's Law Center). The overall U.S. unemployment rate was 6.7% in December.” More detailed job-related data can be accessed at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

It’s too early to determine how January’s rates will look, but we already know that 2020’s cumulative numbers will have lasting impacts on women well beyond the pandemic. Long-term unemployment has a number of consequences. Research indicates that the evidence of negative consequences is clear: “Loss of a job can lead to losses of income in the short run, permanently lower wages, and result in worse mental and physical health and higher mortality rates.”

Although December’s unemployment numbers look bleak, there are some reasons to be optimistic. The vaccination roll-out and stimulus packages will ideally put us on the road to recovery – or at least in its vicinity.

LinkedIn recently conducted an evaluation of jobs based on four criteria: the number of available positions (on its platform); growth over a four-year period; livable pay; and skills that can be learned online. After analyzing the data, LinkedIn identified the top 10 in-demand jobs and is offering free online learning opportunities geared toward those roles.

Though we’re all eager to return to normalcy, we can strive to learn and grow in the interim. And let’s hope that change is on the [near] horizon … especially for women.

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