Sunday, February 5, 2023

Many women quit their jobs. When will they be back?

NEW YORK. There was a time when Naomi Peña seemed to be able to do everything: work full time and raise four children on her own.

But when a viral pandemic hit early last year, her personal problems began to escalate and she had to make a painful decision: her children or her job?

She chose her children. In August, Peña left a well-paid executive assistant position at Google in New York. In doing so, she has joined millions of other women who are biding their time for labor market recovery, caring for relatives, seeking affordable childcare, re-evaluating her career, or re-prioritizing work and personal life.

“I had to change course,” said Peña, 41, who said the pandemic disrupted the lives of her children and forced her to put her career on hold because she felt she was needed more at home than at work.

“I quit my paid job with amazing benefits so I ended up being able to attend with my kids,” she said.

Peña, a single mother of four children ranging from middle school to college age, knows she will eventually have to look for another full-time job – or join the earnings economy – to regain a stable income. Just not yet.

The pandemic has exposed a disproportionate burden on many women in caring for children or aging parents and has highlighted the vital role they have played in America’s workforce for a long time. The United States cut tens of millions of jobs as states began closing huge swathes of the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. But as the economy recovers quickly and employers post record high job openings, many women are postponing returning to work, voluntarily or otherwise.

Even with the children back in school, the influx of women into the labor market that most analysts expected has yet to materialize. The number of women working or looking for work in September actually decreased compared to August. For men, this number has increased.

For parents of young children, the differences between men and women are obvious. Among mothers of 13 and younger children, employment rates were nearly 4% below pre-pandemic levels in September, according to Nick Bunker, director of economic research for job listing website Indeed. For fathers with young children, the decline was only 1%.

“Many women have left the workforce – the question is, how permanent will it be?” said Janet Curry, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and co-director of the families and children program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. “And if they’re going to come back, when will we see them? I don’t know the answers to any of this. “

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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