“The pandemic recession,” as labeled by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, continues to have an unusually harmful economic impact on women. The chair spoke in remarks to a Fed conference on gender and the economy on Monday.

“As schools closed and childcare services shuttered during the worst of the pandemic, that added responsibility and stress made working more difficult for some and took many away from their jobs,’ Powell said his remarks. “These burdens are real and have been an additional challenge during an already challenging time.”

And as many businesses continue to see hardships in filling much-needed jobs, it’s important to note that many of those “front-line” jobs have been held by women.

The departure of so many mothers from the workforce is a big reason why the proportion of Americans who are either working or looking for work remains below pre-pandemic levels, even while employers are scrambling to fill a near-record total of available jobs. Pre-pandemic, women were more likely to hold front-line jobs in health care, at grocery stores and in other public-facing industries,

Since women were overrepresented in such hard-hit service industries as restaurants and retail, many of them may be reluctant to return to those in-person jobs until the pandemic is further under control, the study found.

The key to the return of many women in the workforce hinges on a couple of things — affordable child care options and more certainty that schools will continue to be in session, and that large-scale quarantining for schools is minimal.

While Enid and other school districts across Northwest Oklahoma have struck a better balance in quarantining protocols and keeping school in session, that hasn’t been the case in many areas across the nation.

It’s another reason vaccine efforts must continue. As vaccines continue to ramp up for adults and as more children get the vaccine, hopefully, school quarantining nationwide will subside, and in turn, women will return to the workforce.

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