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Over 300,000 women left workforce last month, National Women's Law Center says

Over 300,000 women left workforce last month, National Women's Law Center says
A sign seeking applications for new employees is seen in the window of Dos Gringos in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C. File Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Over 300,000 women age 20 and over left the workforce entirely in September, the National Women's Law Center said in a new analysis.

The number represented the largest drop in women in this age group no longer working or looking for work since the same month last year, when 863,000 women left the labor force, the NWLC said.

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Women's labor force participation for the same age group fell to 57.1%, from 57.4% in August, remaining below the pre-pandemic rate of 59.2% in February 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic started, women's participation rate in this same age group had not been as low as 57.1% since 1988, more than a generation ago, the NWLC noted.

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Overall, the U.S. economy gained 194,000 jobs last month, but women lost 26,000 jobs and are still short nearly 2.9 million jobs since February 2020.

Men gained 220,000 jobs the same month, resulting in the overall job increase.

The economy has lost nearly 5 million jobs since February 2020 and women account for 57.5% of those losses.

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"It would take over two years of growth at September's level to gain back the nearly 5 million jobs the economy has lost since February 2020," according to NWLC calculations using BLS data. "If the nearly 2 million women who have left the labor force since February 2020 were counted among the unemployed, women's unemployment would have been 6.8% last month."

Black and Latina women have been disproportionately impacted by higher rates of unemployment since the pandemic in comparison to women overall and White men, the NWLC data showed.

Over the first 10 months of the pandemic in the United States, more than 2.3 million left the labor force, the NWLC previously said, in comparison to just under 1.8 million men.

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A few months prior to the pandemic, women made up the majority of the U.S. workforce.

The NWLC told The Hill Monday that the "normal" that existed before the pandemic was "not sustainable for millions of working women, particularly Black, brown, and immigrant women, single mothers, and women with disabilities."

The NWLC added that the "best path" forward is "robust investments in child care and home-based services, universal kindergarten, universal paid leave, extending the Child Tax Credit."

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Many of those measures have been included in President Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" plan, which lawmakers have worked on as part of social benefits and climate package, but lawmakers have disagreed on the size and scope of the package.

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