ECU gender studies expert explains why women lost 140,000 in December

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 8:44 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - In our country, 140,000 jobs were lost in December of 2020, and all of those positions were held by women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Men reportedly gained 16,000 jobs.

Melinda Kane with ECU’s gender studies department from the ECU gender studies department says she’s not surprised by the report.

Kane says the disparities are likely due to the types of jobs the majority of women occupy.

Kane says, “That increase in jobs is in construction, for example, but there were dramatic losses in jobs that were in leisure and hospitality. 57 percent of people who work in leisure and hospitality are women. And when you focus on food and beverage, which is where most of the losses were, the percentage is even higher.”

Kane says, throughout time, such job losses have always been the case.

“Women have historically been a lower proportion of the labor force, and part of that is due to family responsibilities,” Kane said.

N.C. Works say there are resources that can help unemployed women stay afloat.

“If you’re unemployed or underemployed as related to COVID-19, there’s a variety of funding options that can assist them,” said Larry Donley, the Northeast Regional Director.

And in the meantime, Donley says there are ways to make yourself more competitive in the job market.

“We can assist through our partners,” Donley said, “To help them gain additional skills to make them more marketable. There are training opportunities, furthering their education.”

And Kane says until men and women are on equal footing, they should never give up hope.

“I know it’s discouraging. And I guess, you keep trying, but think about alternative industries. Use the resources in your community that can help you,” said Kane.

Statistics also show women are making 81 cents for every dollar a male colleague makes.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that women of color had some of the most significant losses. It showed Black and Latina women disproportionately work in some of the hardest-hit sectors in the pandemic, usually with jobs lacking sick leave or the possibility to work from home.

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