A new report shows an increase of women rejoining the workforce amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With some signs showing that this trend will continue.
The National Women’s Law Center report estimates that 321,000 women began new positions in December 2021. This increases women’s workforce participation rate to 57.8% from its previous 57.5% rate.
The United States economy added 199,000 new jobs last month. 24% of these positions are now filled by women. Julia Vogtman of the National Women’s Law Center sees this growth as a positive sign. She credits this increase to companies hiring more workers for the new year.
“There are certainly some positive signs in last month’s report,” Vogtman says. “More women are looking for work, and wages are growing, but we can expect the omicron variant to disrupt, or even reverse, this progress in the coming months.”
“The pandemic has created a vicious cycle of instability and unpredictability in people’s lives,” she says. “The least women can count on is the number of hours they’re working and the money in their paycheck each week.”
It is the National Women’s Law Center’s goal to raise awareness about wage gaps and advocate for diversity and equality in the workforce. For more information about what they do, check out their Instagram.
Unemployment Rate Falls, America’s Workforce Progresses
Earlier this week, the U.S. Labor Department reported a decrease in the unemployment rate last month. In November 2021, the unemployment rate was at 4.1%. A month later, it decreased to 3.9%. Although these changes look small, some view this as good news for the American economy.
Since April 2020, the monthly unemployment rate has dropped steadily. Pre-pandemic, the rate was as low as 3.5% in February 2020. While we have a little ways to go, economists are hopeful that we can get back to those lower numbers by the second quarter of the new year.
The general workforce participation rate has increased nicely as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines this rate as “the percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years and older that is working or actively looking for work.”
The department finds that 61.9% of the labor force population is participating in the search of jobs, or currently working. This is a drop from August 2019, when the rate was up to 63.2%. The coronavirus pandemic is credited to be a major reason why these rates have dipped.