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How COVID-19 Sent Women’s Workforce Progress Backward: Congress’ $64.5 Billion Mistake

29 October 2020


Four times as many women as men dropped out of the labor force in September, roughly 865,000 women compared with 216,000 men. This validates predictions that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women—and the accompanying child care and school crises—would be severe. In July, a Washington Post article —titled, “Coronavirus child-care crisis will set women back a generation”—pointed out that “[o]ne out of four women who reported becoming unemployed during the pandemic said it was because of a lack of child care—twice the rate among men.” 1 In August, CNN ran the headline, “Working mothers are quitting to take care of their kids, and the US job market may never be the same.” 2


Julie Kashen
Julie Kashen is a senior fellow and Director for Women's Economic Justice at The Century Foundation with expertise in working families, economic mobility, labor, and poverty.

Sarah Jane Glynn
Sarah Jane Glynn, PhD is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Her research focuses on gender, employment, economic security, and work-family policies.

Amanda Novello
Amanda Novello is a senior policy associate at The Century Foundation and works with Century’s Rediscovering Government Initiative. Her research interests include labor economics, the history of policy and economic development, and progressive economic policy.


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