To mark International Women's Day, we look at how women are faring in the labor market recovery. Bank of America internal data on small business accounts shows that sectors with the highest share of female workers saw a bigger contraction in payroll payments at the start of the pandemic and a slower recovery over the last year.
What could explain the weaker recovery? Women are over-represented in services, retail and other low-paid sectors that not only fared worse during Covid, but also whose wages have risen more slowly over the past 12 months. In addition, there are fewer women available for work. Specifically, not only is the women’s labor force participation rate (LFPR) 10 percentage points below that of men, but those already in the labor force are more likely to work part-time.
A lack of affordable childcare has long held back women’s labor market participation, but the pandemic made things worse and inflation is pushing daycare prices up by double digits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of parttime workers citing “childcare responsibilities” as the reason for not working full-time reached a record high in the last year.