Women Accounted for Almost 60% of March Job Losses in U.S.

Those in leisure and hospitality see biggest impact amid coronavirus pandemic
A flower shop employee

As the coronavirus pandemic sparks job losses across the country, new data suggests that women are being impacted more than men.

U.S. businesses cut 701,000 jobs in March as they started feeling the effects of COVID-19. Women received almost 60% of those pink slips, according to analysis by the nonprofit Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).

The IWPR calculated that 412,288 — or 58.8% — of the 701,000 job losses in nonfarm payroll employment were experienced by women.

Some sectors hit harder than others

At the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, many businesses were confident in their ability to weather the storm. But in the outbreak’s wake, many have had to furlough employees or lay them off. Hourly workers were more severely impacted by job loss than salaried workers in the pandemic’s early days.

Women who work in leisure and hospitality saw the biggest losses in March, with employment dropping by 261,000 jobs, compared with 181,000 jobs for men. Other sectors that saw bigger losses for women include:

  • Retail trade: 35,400 job losses for women; 23,300 for men
  • Professional and business services: 29,000 job losses for women; 10,000 for men
  • Nondurable goods manufacturing: 8,000 job losses for women; 2,000 for men

In some sectors, women lost jobs while men gained them. In educational and health services, women lost 86,000 jobs, while men gained 22,000. In financial services, women lost 2,000 jobs, while men gained 21,000. The only sectors where women fared better than men were:

  • Wholesale trade
  • Mining and logging
  • Other services

One area where both men and women saw job gains in March was in government, where both saw an addition of 13,000 jobs, respectively. One reason for this, according to the IWPR, is jobs created because of the census survey.

Big losses for younger workers

Another group largely affected by the March job losses in March was younger employees. According to the IWPR, young workers were the only group to have unemployment rates in the double digits. The rate of unemployment for women and men ages 16 to 19 was 14.3%, compared with 4.0% for women and men 20 and older.

One reason for that, according to the IWPR, could be that part-time work — common with younger people — experienced a sharp rise in unemployment. In addition, younger workers may be particularly impacted by the high number of job losses in leisure and hospitality and in retail, according to the analysis.

The IWPR based its analysis on employment data released April 3 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims released April 2 by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.