As the country continues to move back toward a sense of “normalcy” following the pandemic shutdown, people returning to work and finding work has been a priority for the economy. Black women were one of the groups hit the hardest by unemployment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, February had been a great month for the economy since Covid, but Black women in particular continue to struggle, reported Business Insider.
The national unemployment rate reportedly fell from 4 percent to 3.8 percent. However, even with the increase of more jobs, Black women were still left behind.
From Business Insider:
“With men rejoining the labor force in pretty significant numbers over the last month, that means that all of the net labor force participation losses over the pandemic are women’s losses,” Emily Martin, the vice president for education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, told Insider. “I don’t think that that can be a status quo that we are satisfied with.”
Black women saw their unemployment rate rise from 5.8% in January to 6.1% in February, while other groups saw their unemployment rates stay the same or fall.
Industries heavily dominated by Black women were hit the hardest by the pandemic, most notoriously our frontline jobs. CNBC reported Black women had a harder time working in-person jobs because of the likelihood of them falling ill as well as not having access to childcare. Additionally, when jobs began hiring back workers, Black women faced hiring discrimination while trying to enter and reenter the workforce.
A UCLA Labor Center study emphasized this issue, according to Business Insider. The study found that Black workers in California who were unemployed during the pandemic were still looking for jobs the following summer.
From Business Insider:
It’s difficult to pinpoint exact reasons why Black women left the labor force, although, as Martin notes, “there is structural racism built into employers’ hiring decisions, and employers’ layoff decisions — and that adds an extra set of hurdles that are showing up in these numbers.” Walsh said he thinks that “some of it, outright, has to do with pay equity.”
There’s no doubt that racism is involved. Even after the “racial reckoning” that forced companies to look inward and confront their own biases, Black women are still facing the same issues.
CNBC recommended employers to review wage gaps, include women of color in the hiring process and design opportunities specific to Black women. Until companies examine why Black women are being left behind, they won’t be able to resolve the problem.