Of all the jobs the U.S. workforce lost in December, 100% belonged to women

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Kamala Harris covers Vogue, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi weighs impeachment, and 100% of the jobs the economy lost last month belonged to—you guessed it—women. Have a productive Monday.

– Keeping it ? Amid last week’s chaos, Friday arrived with another piece of somber news. This headline from Fortune‘s Maria Aspan says it all: “Women accounted for 100% of the 140,000 jobs shed by the U.S. economy in December.”

No, you didn’t misread that; women accounted for 100% of the jobs the economy lost in the final month of 2020. Of course, individual men also lost work in December. But as a group, American men gained 16,000 jobs while American women lost 156,000. The economy as a whole lost 140,000—meaning the percentage of jobs lost by women is actually even higher, at 111%.

The National Women’s Law Center, which analyzed this data based on Friday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report, attributes these numbers to the surge in COVID-19 cases; the industries ill-suited for a raging pandemic like hospitality and retail that employ women en masse are once again prone to cut jobs. “We knew, if and when there was a resurgence of the virus, that those industries were going to be very vulnerable to shedding jobs again,” says the NWLC’s Emily Martin, VP for education and workplace justice. That rationale, of course, sits alongside the caregiving responsibilities that have forced women out of the workforce for 10 months now.

Unsurprisingly, this burden is not being borne equally among women. White women, like men, gained jobs in December; meanwhile, 154,000 Black women left the labor force that month.

The sobering December report also allows us to look back at the year. Of 9.6 million jobs cut from the economy in 2020, 55% belonged to women.

With each month’s BLS report throughout the pandemic, we’ve had the opportunity to observe different economic milestones, from April, when older women’s unemployment outpaced that of their male peers; to May, when nearly every group gained jobs except Black women; to August, when 27% of young Black women were unemployed; and finally, to September, when 865,000 women left the workforce in one month.

We can only hope these figures won’t be a monthly tradition for too much longer into 2021.

Emma Hinchliffe
[email protected]

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