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Coronavirus Delivering a Big Economic Blow to Women

THURSDAY, June 25, 2020 -- Not only have women been more likely than men to lose their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, but they are also shouldering more child care responsibilities at home, new research shows.

Overall, employment among women dropped 13 percentage points between March and early April -- from 59% to 46% -- while male employment dropped 10 percentage points -- from 64% to 54%.

Women without a college degree were particularly affected, according to a new analysis of the University of Southern California (USC) Dornsife Center for Economic Research's (CESR) Understanding Coronavirus in America survey. These women experienced a 15 percentage-point drop in employment, from 51% in March to 36% in early April, while their male peers saw an 11 percentage-point drop, from 58% to 47%.

When it came to the home front, one-third of working mothers in two-parent households reported they were the only ones providing care for their children, compared to one-tenth of working fathers, according to the report.

The study also found that women with children have higher levels of mental distress than women without children, and more than men with or without children.

There are a number of reasons why women have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn it's caused, according to study author Gema Zamarro, adjunct CESR senior economist.

The pandemic has devastated service-oriented sectors that employ more women -- such as restaurants, hotels and hospitality -- resulting in more job losses among women. Child care needs spiked due to the closure of schools and daycare centers, while stay-at-home orders made it difficult for family members like grandparents to help care for children.

"Considering women already shouldered a greater burden for child care prior to the pandemic, it's unsurprising the demands are now even greater," Zamarro said in a USC news release.

"While men are more likely to die from infection by COVID-19, overall the pandemic has had a disproportionately detrimental impact on the mental health of women, particularly those with kids," said Zamarro, who is also a professor at the University of Arkansas.

The CESR report was published online June 18.

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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