Maine women losing jobs at greater rate during pandemic
AUGUSTA, Maine (WMTW) - Women in Maine and across the country are losing their jobs at a drastic rate during the pandemic.
In December, nationwide, men gained 16,000 jobs, while women lost 156,000 jobs.
“So often we count on women to hold things together both in families and also in our economy, and we have not done the work to make sure that our whole economy is working for everyone,” Maine Women’s Lobby Executive Director Destie Hohman Sprague said.
Hohman Sprague said women are struggling during the pandemic as many of the jobs they had were the first to go.
“A number of jobs that are being lost are in the service sector, front-line workers, direct workers who are providing individual health care or in-home care or other things that are really high risk are or service sector jobs that have been pulled back hotels, motels,” Hohman Sprague said.
The Maine Department of Labor reported that the state lost 48,900 jobs between February and November. It is estimated 56% of the job losses were among women, which is in line with what is happening nationally.
Since February, women have lost more than 5.4 million jobs, accounting for 55% of job losses.
The hospitality and service sectors were not the only areas hard hit by the pandemic. Nationally, the government sector lost 45,000 jobs in December, with women accounting for 91% of the losses.
“I think we should all be surprised because it is really a shocking number,” Hohman Sprague said.
Hohman Sprague said in some cases, women aren’t losing their jobs, but instead, they are forced to quit.
“What is not specific to the pandemic, is that for a long time we’ve had a child care sector that has been dependent on individual families and individual child care providers to be able to make it work,” Hohman Sprague said.
She said people need to think of child care as a public good, like education.
“Child care is one of those public goods, that makes workforce engagement possible and it has been absolutely decimated during this pandemic,” Hohman Sprague said.
She said the pandemic has only made the problem worse.
“As many as 70% of child care providers are either cutting back on their spaces to make sure that their kids are distant, or they are cutting back on their hours,” Hohman Sprague said.
Hohman Sprague said working to get back to normal is not the answer to the problem.
“It wasn’t working for families before to have to piece together childcare. It wasn’t working for families before not to have paid sick leave or paid family and medical leave,” Hohman Sprague said.
She said people should use the pandemic to see what did not work and look to fix it.
“So, we really need to think about the lessons from the pandemic and now rebuild a new system that attends to it,” Hohman Sprague said.
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