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'She-Cession' In Colorado: COVID-19 Pandemic Hitting Working Moms Disproportionally Hard

(CBS4) -- Researchers say the economic fallout from the pandemic is hitting women harder-- especially mothers. That's according to a study from the Common Sense Institute. In 2020, more than 20,000 Colorado mothers left the work force and have not yet re-entered. Researchers have dubbed it a "she-cession."

Mother multi-tasking with infant daughter in home office
(credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Mothers were also nearly twice as likely to reduce their work hours compared to fathers.

Nicole Riehl co-authored the study. She says that when schools and child care facilities closed, it forced a lot of moms to choose between their kids and their work.

Riehl says for Colorado to meet its economic recovery goals, women need to return to the work force. To accomplish that, she says the state must ensure quality and affordable childcare is available.

"Economic recovery starts with addressing one of the biggest challenges faced by mothers, access to affordable and quality childcare," said Riehl.

According to the study, Colorado ranks eighth for the highest cost of early childcare. The annual average cost for full-time infant care is $15,325. For a minimum wage worker, that is over 60% of their income.

"We cannot talk about economic recovery without a real plan for child care and education as these jobs in the home tend to fall on women," said Kristin Strohm, CSI President and CEO of CSI.

Researchers cited the following statistics:

  • In Colorado the unemployment rate for women between the ages of 16 and 24 jumped to just over 12.5% in the fourth quarter while the unemployment rate for women above the age of 25, was at 5%.
  • In December of 2020 there were 9.65 million fewer jobs in the U.S. than in January. Of the total job loss, women accounted for 54.5%, or 5.26 million of those jobs, and men accounted for 4.4 million, 860,000 fewer jobs than women.
  • In December, women accounted for 100% of the net job loss for the month, as women lost 140,000 jobs, whereas men gained 16,000 jobs.

Read their suggestions for increasing access to affordable child care here.

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