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Has Covid Affected Female Employment?

A young female worker in front of a laptop.

Covid has affected us all in many ways including with our jobs and many of us have suffered job losses. But how has it impacted women’s employment rates?

According to IFS, the employment rate among women of ‘prime working age’ (aged 25-54) is up from 57% in 1975 to a record high of 78% in 2017. The employment rate for women has been continually climbing over the last century and continues to do so, but has there been an impact from Covid-19 on women’s employment?

The short answer is yes, but there’s been an impact on both men’s and women’s employment rates due to the pandemic. Unemployment rates have risen by around the same amount: men climbing from 4.3% to 5.4% and women from 3.7% to 4.8%. As you can see here there isn’t a huge difference but are there other reasons women might be affected by Covid-19, for example, let’s consider the impact of lockdown on women’s lives.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies stated that mothers are 1.5 times more likely than fathers to have either lost their job or quit since the start of the first lockdown. They also stated that mothers were more likely to be furloughed. The House of Commons explained that:

“more women are furloughed than men … is because more women hold jobs eligible for furlough”.

This may be because women who are now working from home may have their hands full with young children, and there are fewer options for childcare. This would be an issue for women who had to work during the lockdowns such as doctors, hospital workers, and those running takeaway food outlets. Without access to childcare, woman, in particular single mothers, would have to stay home to look after and home-school their children.

This could have a serious impact on a women’s mental health as well as a financial impact. Sometimes it might be difficult to keep on top of our finances at a time like this and that can be extremely stressful.

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