September marked another month of slow job growth, with the economy adding just 194,000 positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Men gained all of September’s new jobs while more than 300,000 women left the labor force, the largest drop-off of women from the workforce since September 2020, reports the National Women’s Law Center.
At September’s rate, it would take more than two years for the economy to gain back the nearly 5 million jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the NWLC analysis. Women have continued to bear the brunt of pandemic job losses, losing 26,000 jobs in September while men gained 220,000 positions.
It’s no coincidence that sharp declines in women’s labor force participation have happened at the start of the school year twice during the pandemic, Emily Martin, the vice president for education and workplace justice at the NWLC tells CNBC Make It. “Back to school requires a shift in caregiving arrangements, which is why we saw a big loss of women in the workforce last September,” Martin says. “If your kids were in an all-day summer camp, for example, and now you need to pick up your children from school earlier, the system you had doesn’t work anymore.”
The pandemic has continued to complicate childcare arrangements, even a year later, Martin adds, “because there’s still a lack of available childcare and some schools haven’t re-started their after-school programs yet … all of that, I suspect, is why we see September as a moment when women feel like they just can’t balance childcare and work anymore.”