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COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Pandemic Job Losses Disproportionately Impacting Women

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - As the pandemic rages on, so does its impact on the job market.

Women, particularly women of color, were hit exceptionally hard to end 2020.

"African American women, Hispanic women have been hit harder by the pandemic," said Risa Kumazawa, an economics professor at Duquesne University. "So, their unemployment numbers have been higher."

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 140,000 net jobs lost in December.

Adding jobs lost and gained for women, they lost a cumulative 156,000 jobs.

Using that same math for men, they gained 16,000 net jobs with male-dominated industries like construction seeing a boost.

That does not mean men did not lose jobs in December, but when adding jobs gained and lost for men and women, men collectively added jobs while women lost them.

Kumazawa says typically female-dominated industries like hospitality and leisure had a difficult December with cases of COVID-19 rising and tougher restrictions put in place in many areas.

"These women made up a large proportion of these low wage-earning jobs in the hospitality industry, so restaurants and some other jobs were hit the hardest," she said.

Tougher restrictions in Pennsylvania closed indoor dining and many entertainment venues, as well as reduced gathering sizes for most of December.

In addition, women often take on most of the childcare responsibilities in a household.

With many kids still learning from home, Tanya Vokes-Mallory, CEO of Dress For Success Pittsburgh says it's forcing many women to choose between working or staying home with their kids.

"The numbers are not good," she said. "One in four women right now is leaving or considering leaving the workforce."

Dress for Success is a non-profit organization that connects women in need of professional attire and employment resources.

Vokes-Mallory says the need is up at Dress for Success after a year that has been difficult for women and jobs.

They've also shifted their operations to a virtual format.

"Women are coming to us who probably thought they would never need Dress for Success' services because people are being downsized and let go at a very rapid rate across the region," she said.

Dress for Success has locations in Allegheny, Butler, Fayette, and Washington Counties.

You can learn more about Dress for Success on their website.

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