More Women Return to the Workforce Post-Pandemic

By: James Flippin · March 09, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Pandemic Impact

Women hold the majority of jobs in the services sector — such as health, private education, housekeeping, and hospitality — which were hit especially hard by the pandemic, leaving many without jobs. Others left the workforce as shuttered schools and limited daycare options led to a rise in needs at home.

Ultimately, the pandemic left 12 million women out of work — that’s 2 million more women than men. But with schools and daycares reopening and a labor shortage across most sectors, working women have bounced back in a major way. For four months now, women have attained more jobs than men.

Back to the Workforce

January 2023 saw a hiring wave that propelled women to hold nearly half of all nonfarm jobs. And in November 2022, the labor force participation rate of women with young children exceeded post-pandemic levels — although it’s worth noting this trend did not hold true for women with adult-aged children or for women without children.

Many of these women are filling positions in services, currently holding 66% of all jobs in the sector. In the six months that ended January 2023, women took on 719,000 new services jobs.

The Motivation

For some, this return to work has been motivated by financial need. Soaring inflation following the pandemic has put the squeeze on many Americans’ wallets. Others find post-pandemic job offers more attractive.

Job shortages typically lead to higher pay. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta found that pay increases for the lowest wage-earners increased by 7.2% year-over-year in January 2023, compared to just 4% in January 2021.

With the widespread acceptance of remote work, many employers now offer increased flexibility. Plus, the tight labor market tends to give workers more negotiating power. All in all, women considering returning to work who have yet to jump back into the job hunt may find now is the ideal time to do so.

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