A staggering 300,000 women left the workforce in September, which is the largest number of women leaving work since September of 2020.
The findings from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) revealed that September was still a slow month for job growth, with the economy adding just 194,000 new positions.
However, if this rate continues, it could take over two years for the economy to return to pre-pandemic averages according to the data from the NWLC.
Since the start of the pandemic, women have faced the brunt of job loss, with 26,000 women losing their jobs last month compared to men gaining 220,000 positions.
Emily Martin, vice president for education and workplace justice at the NWLC, says that back-to-school may have driven this decline of workforce participation.
“Back to school requires a shift in caregiving arrangements, which is why we saw a big loss of women in the workforce last September,” said Martin. “If your kids were in an all-day summer camp, for example, and now you need to pick up your children from school earlier, the system you had doesn’t work anymore.”
Because limited childcare services have coincided with the reopening of schools, mothers have especially struggled to balance work and childcare more than ever.
Beyond child responsibilities, women disproportionately handle caregiving obligations which likely increased along with the spike in Covid-19 variants.
Martin suggests that employers need to do more to support women workers by offering increased flexibility in their schedules, being empathetic to their unique experience, and opening a line of communication about their work responsibilities.