The coronavirus pandemic has created a child care crisis and forced some parents into difficult positions as child care options remain limited during the pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, female unemployment rates have reached double digits for the first time since 1948.
Black and Latina mothers have stopped working during the pandemic, either by their own choice or because of layoffs, at higher rates than white mothers. According to several reports by USA Today, lack of access to child care is a huge factor in the unemployment rates seen among mothers.
The economic toll of the pandemic is disproportionately impacting single mothers, who faced higher rates of unemployment compared to women without children during the second and third quarters of 2020. Thousands of mothers, single or not, have had to stop working in order to stay home while their children attend school virtually, and extracurricular activities remain closed.
Black moms have been more likely to quit their jobs than Latina or white moms, according to the news outlet. Immigrants mothers have faced higher rates of layoffs the most this year.
The effects of having so many women out of the workforce will likely ripple for many years to come. Some experts predict that mothers of color re-entering the workforce will face an uphill battle after losing seniority, skills and income.
“It was difficult before, and it’s a crisis now. Moms are doing more of the increase in care work,” Marianne Cooper, a sociologist at Stanford University in California said in an interview. Cooper is the author of the book Cut Adrift: Families in Insecure Times.
Overall, mothers have been more likely than fathers to cut hours or leave work in order to care for children at home. Cooper said the wage gap contributed to families making these decisions, since women earn 82% of what men make. Black women make 62% of what white men make, while Latina women earn 53% of what white men earn.
While the second stimulus package includes funding for child care providers impacted by the pandemic, parents have had limited options and access as numbers rise and providers cut back on hours for safety.
Direct cash payments of $600 were approved in the second stimulus but the economic recession caused by the pandemic adds to the list of urgent demands the incoming presidential administration will have to respond to at the beginning of their terms.
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