Employment rate for Black women 10% lower than last year

Economists suggest that the source of this disparity is occupational segregation

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According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the economy is showing signs of recovery with 379,000 more jobs and an unemployment rate which decreased to 6.2 percent.

The report also said that Black women are amongst the minority groups who’ve faired far worse than white workers during the COVID-19 fueled recession of 2020.

In February, the unemployment rate for Black workers was 9.9 percent compared to 8.5 percent for Latino workers and 5.6 percent for white workers. For Black women, the current unemployment rate is 9.7 percent lower than it was in February 2020 — before COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., according to CNBC News.

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Economists suggest that the source of this disparity is occupational segregation. Kate Bahn, an economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, says the recovery may severely be impacted.

“Whoever was hit the hardest takes the longest to recover. Once we are long into the recovery, employment levels and income levels may not fully recover for years,” Bahn said.

She added, “Women are slightly more represented in some sectors like leisure and hospitality and food service. We’ve also lost health care jobs, particularly low wage health care jobs that are disproportionately held by women of color.”

Economists are hopeful that President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 package — which the Senate passed on Saturday — will boost economic recovery and provide assistance to those who lost their jobs.

Kristen Broady, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and policy director of Hamilton’s Project, said Black women usually fared better in the labor market, but the nature of the pandemic, which caused a lot of childcare issues due to children being sent home from school, has impacted Black women’s ability to work.

Over the years, women who have left the workforce during a recession to care for their children have often struggled to reenter into their former roles or find an occupation with a similar wage or salary.

“In other recessions, children were still in schools,” Broady said. “If you can’t afford child care and are a single mom, you can’t go to work. And that’s more likely to affect black and Hispanic women.”

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Anna Gifty, a Ghanaian-American researcher and co-founder of The Sadie Collective, an organization that addresses the “pathway problem for Black women in economics, finance, and policy,” tweeted about the employment rate in June 2020, three months into the pandemic.

“Did you know that since the pandemic started the employment rate for Black women has dropped by 11 percentage points? More than any other group,” Gifty said at the time.

In the thread, she noted that Black women were losing “the most jobs at an alarming rate” and posted a chart showing the staggering numbers.

“This is bad because Black women are overrepresented among essential workers who are risking their lives without being protected.”

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