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White moms dropped out of the US workforce in December more than any other group

A couple with six children waiting for unemployment
Reuters/ Leah Millis
Mothers with school-aged kids are dropping out of the work force.
  • Karen Ho
By Karen Ho

Global finance and economics reporter

Published Last updated on

Correction: This is an updated version of an earlier article that was based on an inaccurate analysis of US census data. The earlier version stated Asian mothers suffered the greatest job losses in December, but that was incorrect.

The number of white working mothers who are responsible for school age children dropped by more than 82,000 in December 2020, a decline of nearly 7% when compared to the same month in 2019 and adjusted to the start of the pandemic. This was a larger decline than that of Black, Asian, and Hispanic working mothers.

White working mothers with kids at home had smaller percentage drops at the beginning of the pandemic in April and May compared to Black, Asian, and Hispanic working mothers, according to preliminary data analysis by US census economist Misty Heggeness.  Black, Asian, and Hispanic working mothers had much higher initial job losses. But the start of the school year in September hurt the recovery for white mothers, and flattened it out for the rest of the semester.

While Asian working mothers had recovered by the end of 2020, this group also experienced the greatest fluctuations in employment levels. This included a 11% drop between July and August compared to 2019 levels relative to the beginning of the pandemic. Asian working fathers with kids at home also often had much lower employment levels throughout much of the 2020 compared to fathers of other races with children at home.

This is partly due to location, since nearly one-third of Asian Americans live in California, one of places hit hardest by the pandemic in the country and where restrictions on restaurants included a temporary ban on outdoor dining until Jan. 25.

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