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MNI: Bowman Sees Lasting Job Hit as Pandemic Sidelines Women


Fed Governor says lack of child care and high rate of retirement will keep women out of the labor force for longer.

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Women disproportionately dropped out of the U.S. labor force during the Covid-19 pandemic to care for children and other family members, and the negative effects are likely to prove long-lasting, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman said Tuesday.

There are 2 million fewer women in the labor force now than before the pandemic, a larger drop than that of men. In particular, women living with children under the age of six saw a higher exit rate.

Although daycares have reopened, worker shortages and cost increases are limiting the number of children who can be cared for at each facility. "I see a risk that lack of childcare availability will continue to hold women back from participating in the labor force, which could be a drag on the economy," Bowman said in remarks prepared for a Women in Banking symposium in Richmond, Va.

In addition, more women than men have retired in the past 18 months and these retirees are unlikely to return to the labor market, Bowman said. "The loss of these workers will limit the productive capacity of the economy, and may make it harder, or even impossible in the near term, to return to the high level of employment achieved before the pandemic."