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September was a jobs disaster for women

New data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 865,000 women stopped working in September, a massive drop and the largest one during the pandemic.
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Thousands of American women also stopped working last month.
  • Karen Ho
By Karen Ho

Global finance and economics reporter


American women left the labor force in droves in September.  The number of working women 20 years of age and older collapsed by 865,000 to 71.85 million, the steepest drop in three months during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.

By comparison, the number of working men in the US in the same age category only fell by 216,000, to 82.3 million

The figures are the latest measure of how the pandemic is disproportionately hurting women. They have been harder hit by job losses than their male peers, and because they are overrepresented in industries affected by Covid-19, such as hospitality and education, they are less likely to get rehired. The September data suggest they are also bearing the brunt of childcare and home schooling, with the fall term starting that month in many states.


Since March, nearly 2 million women have left the labor force. By comparison, the difference in the number of working men of the same age fell by 880,000 between March and September.

Women’s economic losses might be bad news for president Donald Trump ahead of the election. Former vice president Joe Biden has been making inroads among women in several key states as the Trump administration fails to get the pandemic under control.

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