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Women’s disproportionate setbacks in Covid economy subject of ATL Fed’s webinar

By David Pendered

The gender wage gap is expected to widen during the coronavirus pandemic – and persist. The Atlanta Fed’s webinar on Friday is to expand on this topic as part of Raphael Bostic’s call for a more inclusive economy.

Rosie the Riverter

Congressional Gold Medals would be awarded to some 16 million women who worked in factories to build war materials during World War II under the Rosie the Riverter Act pending President Trump’s signature. Credit: Kelly Jordan

The title of Friday’s program says it all about women in the workforce: This Time It’s Different: The Role of Women’s Employment in a Pandemic Recession. The program is based on a paper of the same name.

Three takeaways from the paper show a bigger proportion of women than men quit work to care for children, lost income when they worked, and lost jobs:

  • “Mothers with young children reduced their labor supply by four to five times as much as fathers;
  • “Between February and May, women’s average hours fell by 27 percent, versus a drop of only 20 percent for men….”
  • “Women’s employment rate (employed and at work) dropped by 17.8 percentage points from February to June 2020, compared to only 15.8 percentage points for men….”

Friday’s event is one in the series of five virtual meetings of the Atlanta Fed’s 11th Annual Employment Conference. This year’s theme is Work in the Time of Covid. The event is open to the public; registration is required.

This program comports with the position Bostic staked out in June. Bostic, president of the Atlanta Fed, released a personal paper during the demonstrations over the death of George Floyd when in custody of Minneapolis police. Bostic’s paper is titled, A Moral and Economic Imperative to End Racism.

While the paper speaks specifically of structural racism in the economy, the tenets extend to equity for women in the economy. Bostic’s paper observes:

  • “A commitment to an inclusive society also means a commitment to an inclusive economy. Such an economy would represent a rebuke of systemic racism and other exclusionary structures. It would represent a true embrace of the principles that all are created equal and should enjoy unburdened life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Female workers face greater job losses and greater challenges in getting another job after than pandemic than do men. Credit: Kelly Jordan

Bostic hs been named as a potential cabinet appointee in the Biden administration. Treasury secretary has been mentioned. On Wedneday in Atlanta, Bostic was introduced as the incoming 2021 chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber during its annual meeting. The topic of his potential job with Biden was not discussed in public. During an Oct. 11 appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, Bostic did not say he would decline the job.

At Friday’s virtual event, the discussion is to feature an author of the paper, Michèle Tertilt, of the University of Mannheimm, and Alesandra Fogli, of the Minneapolis Fed.

The paper presents the expected caveats that provide texture for its observations. The conclusion is that women are suffering greater workforce setbacks then men during the pandemic. Hurdles women are expected to face in trying to return to the workforce include child-rearing responsibilities and expertise lost while not working outside the home.

Note to readers: Registration for the Atlanta Fed’s virtual meeting, ‘Work in the Time of COVID,’ is available here. The event begins Friday at 2 p.m.


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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