“We’re not talking about how the caregiving crisis is impacting the learning loss for kids and how it’s disproportionately impacting girls and girls of color.”
— Reshma Saujani, founder of the nonprofit Girls Who Code
A year into the pandemic, there are signs that the American economy is stirring back to life, with a falling unemployment rate and a growing number of people back at work. Even mothers — who left their jobs in droves in the last year in large part because of increased caregiving duties — are slowly re-entering the work force.
But young Americans — particularly women 16 to 24 — are living an altogether different reality, with higher rates of unemployment than older adults, and many thousands, possibly even millions, postponing their education, which can delay their entry into the work force.
New research suggests that the number of “disconnected” young people — defined as those who are neither in school nor the work force — is growing. For young women, the caregiving crisis may be a major reason they have put on hold their education or careers.
Last year, unemployment among young adults jumped to 27.4 percent in April from 7.8 percent in February — almost double the 14 percent overall unemployment rate that month and the highest for that age group in the last two decades, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
At its peak in April, the unemployment rate for young women over all hit 30 percent — with a 22 percent rate for white women in that age group, 30 percent for Black women and 31 percent for Latina women.
Those numbers are starting to improve as many female-dominated industries that shed jobs at the start of the pandemic, like leisure, retail and education, are adding them back.
The unemployment rate for young women is now down to 9 percent — lower than the rate for young men, which is at 12 percent, but still higher than the overall U.S. unemployment rate of 6 percent. But that doesn’t mean young women are necessarily faring much better now than they were earlier in the pandemic.
Because many young women have stopped looking for work, they’re not counted in unemployment numbers. Roughly 18 percent of the 1.9 million women who have left the work force completely since last February — or about 360,000 — were 16 to 24, according to an analysis of seasonally unadjusted numbers by the National Women’s Law Center.
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