The pandemic has shut down businesses and forced many out of the labor force. People of all genders had to scramble to make ends meet while the government strictly enforced the lockdown protocols. However, now that the restrictions have been eased, many individuals are reentering the labor market. Companies are now seeing a surge in women returning to work, and here’s what they think.
After spending her time mostly inside her house with her children, Qynisha Jordan is happy to be going back to work. It has been two years since she let go of her job as an account manager at PepsiCo Atlanta because of the pandemic.
“The best part has definitely been having conversations with adults and adult interaction. That’s been awesome,” she said.
“I vividly remember when the school called and said they were closing school. And from then on, I was at home. It was really difficult. I had three children who were doing three completely different things, all at the same time. It was a lot,” Jordan recalled.
Jordan is just one of the 2 million women who left their posts in the wake of the pandemic. Like others, she waited for the perfect time to rejoin the labor force since women had to take care of a myriad of things, such as their sick families, children, and others.
The massive layoff of women increased companies’ fears two and a half years ago. Workers quitting their jobs meant businesses had to deal with a labor shortage, which could damage the economy in the long run. Economists and policymakers feared that the trend would continue and women would choose not to go back. However, the opposite happened, and women are now back on track.
“Women had a very tough road to haul with kids working from home and with school being so uncertain. But we’re seeing that the pandemic did not do permanent damage to women’s attachment to the labor force,” said an economist from the University of Michigan, Betsey Stevenson.
The economy pressures laborer to get back
Statistics show that last month, the volume of women looking for jobs increased. As per the tally, around 49 million women aged 25 to 54 are reentering the labor market. The figure represents a greater number than the number of workers in February 2020, before the lockdowns were implemented. Moreover, Black and Latina women seem to dominate the group looking for work.
Stevenson indicated two major factors that are pushing women back into the labor force. One is more free time on their hands as children are now going back to school due to resumed face-to-face classes. And two is the high rate of inflation, causing prices to skyrocket. Ultimately, women who do not earn enough need to find other avenues of income to combat the rising prices of groceries, gas, and other services.
“People are being sort of pushed by the rising prices to think, ‘Ugh, my savings are getting hit a little bit too hard.’ And instead of being out there spending their money, they’re going back to work to earn money,” added Stevenson.
“We needed to adjust to a new normal. Maybe one reason we’re seeing people go back to work is they’ve been trying to figure out how to adjust, and they’re reaching some conclusions about how to do it — how to balance it all.”