Report From Katie Porter Shows 1 In 5 Women Have Left Workforce Since Pandemic

The congresswoman is calling for more support, especially for women of color, who've been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19-related economic crisis.

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) is calling out how the COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic crisis have disproportionately pushed women out of the workforce.

About 22% — or over 1 in 5 — women in the U.S. have left the labor force since the start of the pandemic, according to a report released Tuesday by Porter’s office, citing an October survey from the Bipartisan Policy Center.

As the pandemic has led to virtual schooling and the closure of day care centers, women have borne the brunt of child care at home. A whopping 42% of women with kids under 2 years old reported leaving the workforce during the pandemic.

“Without action, the pandemic will likely erase decades of progress for working women, who are now being forced to shoulder the burden of childcare,” Porter wrote in the report, noting she is a single mother of three young children. “Working women have always had to make difficult choices to balance their careers and their families, but the pandemic has made these decisions nearly impossible.”

The report goes on to detail how widespread job losses due to the coronavirus crisis have especially affected women of color, who are disproportionately employed by many of the hardest-hit businesses — including hotels, restaurants, retail and other jobs in the service industry.

Porter’s report cites a Washington Post analysis that found that white women had recovered 61% of the jobs they lost during the pandemic by September, while Black women had recovered only 34% of their lost jobs by then, according to Labor Department data.

Porter called on Congress to take action to support working women and families, including by funding more paid leave and unemployment benefits to “replace lost wages.”

Congress has yet to pass a new coronavirus relief bill. Meanwhile, unemployment and paid leave benefits from the previous coronavirus legislation, passed in the spring, are set to expire at the end of the month.