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Rep. Porter Report Details the Burden of the Pandemic on Working Women

Congresswoman’s report highlights how inaction will erase decades of progress for working women, hamper economic recovery

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) today released a report documenting the economic burden of the coronavirus pandemic on women in the workforce. The report suggests that disparities between men and women in the workplace are likely to deepen without a recovery effort that includes policies focused on women and families. These gaps, left unaddressed, would last for generations and result in long term damage to our economy. 

“No matter how you look at the economic data, it is clear that the burden of this pandemic is falling hardest on women,” said Porter, the only single mother of young children in Congress. “Women are losing their jobs more often than men, while a disproportionate number of women are leaving the labor force to care for their children. Our report makes clear that we aren’t currently doing enough to support working women, and this inaction is going to hold back our economic recovery.”

The report’s key findings include:

  • While our economy was moving in a more equitable direction, the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic crisis are erasing decades of progress and intensifying the disparities between men and women across all sectors and demographics. Since the start of the pandemic, 22 percent of all women have left the labor force, and job losses remain concentrated in industries with the greatest proportion of women in the workforce, especially women of color.
  • Lack of support from both government and employers for balancing work, home, and childcare responsibilities is pushing women out of the labor force. In corporate America, as many as two million women are considering leaving the workforce due to the lack of childcare options during the pandemic. The support system that previously made full-time work and childcare possible for women has been upended, as many childcare centers and schools remain closed or are operating at a reduced capacity.

The report makes clear the need for a recovery plan that will support working women and families. Congresswoman Porter specifically recommends:

  • Investing in paid leave, pre-kindergarten programs, and unemployment: Paid leave allows parents to take the time needed to care for a sick child or themselves, and it keeps our communities safer by reducing COVID-19 spread. A paid leave program, as well as support for free pre-K programs and for working parents facing closed childcare centers and schools, would help keep mothers in the workforce both during and after the pandemic. 
  • Equipping our schools and childcare centers with the tools they need to reopen safely: In order to support women who can return to work, Congress and the Administration needs to provide resources so our schools and childcare facilities reopen safely. It is essential the federal government also works to make childcare more affordable for working families.
  • Accommodating the additional pressures women are experiencing in the workplace: Employers must adjust their business models to accommodate the additional pressures women, and especially mothers, are experiencing in the workplace. This includes adjusting performance reviews; maintaining safe workspaces as employers rehire, reopen, or increase operations; providing emergency paid leave; and providing accommodations to employees with disabilities to allow them to continue working during the pandemic.

Recognizing that strong family policy is strong economic policy, Congresswoman Porter has been a staunch advocate for women and families throughout her time in Congress. In July, she introduced legislation that would make it easier for Americans serving as caregivers to get relief if their children or other dependents are unable to go to school or a childcare facility due to COVID-19. One of the first bills she introduced was the bipartisan Family Savings for Kids and Seniors Act, which would make childcare more affordable by more than doubling the amount of money families can set aside pre-tax in Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

Read the full report HERE.