The US lost 140,000 jobs in December. All of those jobs were held by women.

woman interviewer
A woman sitting in an office.

  • The December jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics said 140,000 jobs were lost last month.
  •  All of those lost jobs were held by women, data shows.
  • The disparities grow even wider when considering race, with Black and Latina women working in retail and education sectors being hit the hardest.
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The US posted a surprise decline in payrolls in December and all of the 140,000 jobs lost were held by women, according to data.

Analysts had expected an uptick in employment in December but instead American businesses shed 140,000 nonfarm payroll. The country’s unemployment rate stayed steady at 6.7%, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monthly jobs report shows that the economy lost 140,000 net jobs in December, marking the first month of job loss since the economy started adding back jobs in May 2020,” said the National Women’s Law Center, a nonprofit focused on achieving gender justice in courts and public policy. “All of the jobs lost were women’s jobs, with women losing 156,000 jobs and men gaining 16,000.”

December’s numbers reflect a slowdown in US economic recovery, which has been mostly stagnant as the coronavirus continues to spread. Small businesses nationwide were forced to shutter to curb its spread. 

Many of them – including barbershops and retail stores – have reopened and are offering services while adhering to COVID-19 restrictions, including caps on the number of people present in person. Other small businesses remain closed or are operating at reduced capacity.  

Job losses have been particularly steep across woman-dominated sectors like education. Women have also lost jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors. 

All together, there were 2.1 million fewer women working last month than there were in February, right before the pandemic had seriously hit small businesses and brought intense economic fluctuation, according to the NWLC analysis.

The disparities grow even wider when considering race. 

The coronavirus has hit Black and Latina women harder than white men and women. Black and Latina women working in retail or across essential service sectors have been disproportionately laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.

About 1 in 12 Black women and 1 in 11 Latina women remain unemployed, the NWLC analysis says. Those figures represent about 8.4% and 9.1% unemployment rates. 

About 5.8% of white men, in comparison, reported unemployment in December.

To offset some of the economic devastation, President Donald Trump signed the second coronavirus relief bill in December. It was a $900 billion relief package that contained $600 direct payments for most Americans.

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