The world is facing its largest economic crisis since the Great Depression. This is, of course, tied to the coronavirus and the stay at home order embraced by governors around the country. Many businesses closed, perhaps never to reopen, leaving upwards of 15 million to file for unemployment as of May.
Unfortunately, women are filing at a higher rate than men. Statistics in the United States put women’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April 2020 at 16.2% while men sit at 13.5%. These numbers are both up from 3.4% for women and 3.6% for men in February 2020.
Why is this happening?
There are a variety of factors involved in these employment figures. But a leading reason was that restaurants, bars and hotels were hit hardest by the stay at home orders, and women make up a decided majority of the workers in these industries as well as other customer-service-driven businesses like hair and nail salons, retail stores and the medical field.
According to a recent survey, however, the news is no better in industries where women are underrepresented. The tech industry has struggled to hire women — women fill 25 % of senior roles and 37% of entry-level positions. Now those gains at the entry-level are going away because these jobs are the first to go, but even at the senior level, 8% of women and 5% of men were laid off.
Employers need to be careful.
Businesses will soon begin to reopen. Those who laid off or furloughed employees will need to be cautious about who to bring back because business numbers will likely not return to where they were in February. It is wise to institute policies that clearly show no biases based on gender, race, age, religion, or sexual orientation. This can help avoid appearances of discrimination or protect employers if employees file a claim.