Under 12% of New Jobs in August Went to Women

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Job growth exploded in August, but women lagged behind.

Although the U.S. economy didn't add nearly as many jobs in August as it did in July, last month still saw 235,000 new positions become available, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But it seems as though women weren't able to capitalize on those opportunities.

Only 11.9% of new jobs went to women in August, as per the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). And given the toll the pandemic has taken on women, the NWLC projects that female employees would need the equivalent of about nine years of August's jobs gains to return to pre-pandemic levels of employment.

Why are women struggling to get back into the workforce?

Several factors explain why women have had a harder time getting hired than men. For one thing, many of the industries that shed a lot of jobs during the pandemic were ones that had a heavy concentration of female employees -- think hospitality and retail.

Plus, women are statistically likely to earn less than their male counterparts. Right now, schools aren't open consistently for in-person learning, and childcare is not only extraordinarily expensive, but difficult to come by. So it stands to reason that in a household with both a male parent and a female parent, the woman would be the one to put her career on hold in the absence of affordable, reliable care options.

How women can navigate today's labor force

Many women can't reenter the workforce due to circumstances outside their control. That said, there is one trend that may work to women's benefit these days -- remote work.

Remote work started out as a necessary measure to keep employees safe at the start of the pandemic. At this point, however, many companies are making plans to keep workers remote for the long term. Doing so benefits them as much as it does employees. Companies can save money on office space and open their hiring pools once proximity to a specific location is no longer a requirement.

For women struggling with childcare issues, remote work could be a reasonable solution, as those who get remote jobs may be able to cut down on childcare hours. Minimizing that expense can make it more feasible to hold a position that earns a paycheck.

On the other hand, because so many women are employed in customer-facing industries, remote work may be difficult for them to come by. After all, many of these jobs rely on live customer interaction. Or, to put it another way, someone who normally works in hotel reception can't necessarily get the same job remotely. In that scenario, though, it may be possible to pivot to a remote customer service role. That could mean taking a pay cut, but a smaller paycheck is better than none at all.

The fact that women weren't able to capitalize on job openings in August is disappointing. Women who are struggling to reenter the labor market should explore all possible options, whether it's working part time or getting a remote job. Earning a paycheck can help women shore up their finances and pad their savings for emergencies. Just as importantly, not having a large resume gap could help women avoid long-term career repercussions.

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