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New Survey: Facing Caregiving Challenges, Women Leaving the Workforce at Unprecedented Rates

A new survey conducted by Morning Consult for the Bipartisan Policy Center finds that nearly one quarter of the women who have left work since the coronavirus pandemic began did so to manage their caregiving responsibilities.

The September monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that, among people over 20, four times more women than men left employment. Specifically, 865,000 women dropped out of the U.S. workforce, while 216,000 men did the same.

BPC designed this survey to better understand what is driving this discouraging gender disparity. Among Americans who left their work, our survey found that:

  • Women with children are much more likely to have left work. Among women with children under 2 years old, 42% have left work during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Two in five (41%) adults either are women who have left work or know a woman that has left the workforce during the pandemic.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to say they left work for caregiving responsibilities due to childcare provider or school closures

“Women are leaving work at an unprecedented rate and it’s important to understand why. As Congress continues to consider COVID-19 relief packages, policymakers should design policies that not only create new employment opportunities, but empowers women to actually take those jobs,” says Adrienne Schweer, a BPC fellow leading paid family leave efforts. “This survey shows that caregiving is a significant challenge to employment, especially for parents. Pragmatic policies that support the caregiver—like paid family leave—are needed to better manage family responsibilities while staying connected to the workforce.”

The Bipartisan Policy Center has called on Congress to consider extending and expanding the emergency paid family leave program enacted early in the pandemic, as it covers as few as 25% of American workers and is proven to both reduce COVID-19 cases by 400 per day per state and keep families connected to work.

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