women in the workforce

The Common Sense Institute sees troubles for working parents in an analysis released Thursday called "Colorado’s Labor Force and Jobs Report COVID-19."

The report flags the growing gap — 14% in February to 19% in September — in the labor force participation rate between men and women with kids: 93% participation for men with kids and a 74% for women with kids.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact women and particularly women with kids. The numbers are not improving and that should set off alarm bells for elected officials and policy makers,” said Kristin Strohm, president and CEO of the business-oriented think tank. “We cannot fully recover from the economic downturn without addressing the impact on women — and women in the workforce.”

She added, “We can’t turn back the clock on the progress women in the workforce have made. From childcare to getting kids back to school — we have to remove the barriers keeping women out of the workforce.”

Read the report by clicking here.

The institute flagged other key findings in the report in the press release Thursday.

Colorado Labor Force

  • The September statewide labor force participation rate (LFPR) stood at 67.9%, 1.5 percentage points below the February level. This translates to 39,000 fewer people in the Colorado labor force now, than there were in February. Prior to the pandemic the Colorado LFPR had been trending upwards since the end of 2015.
  • From August to September the overall female labor force grew by 21,000 compared to 52,000 for the male labor force. However, compared to February, the number of women in the labor force in September was approximately 2,000 below the February level. Over the same period the male labor force increased by 37,800.
  • The gap in the LFPR between men and women with kids was 14% in February. In September, the gap grew to 19%, the difference between a 93% LFPR for men with kids and a 74% LFPR for women with kids.
  • Women with kids are still being disproportionately impacted. The LFPR in September for women with kids was 5.05 percentage points below its February rate of 79.8%. The LFPR for women without kids, men with kids, and men without kids were each above their February rate.
  • From February to September, 42,000 women with kids left the labor force and have not yet re-entered; in contrast, 40,000 women without kids have entered the labor force from February to September.
  • Men of all ages saw a slight increase in their labor force participation rate from August to September, however the LFPR for men above 35 was 3% below its February rate.
  • The LFPR for females above 35 was 4.8 percentage points below its February level and the rate for females 35 and below was 1.44 percentage points above its February rate.
  • From April through June, there was a significant spike in women’s earnings as a percent of male earnings. This is likely attributed to the large number of women who left the labor force who likely worked part-time, and therefore also had a lower weekly wage, rather than in actual increase in wages.

Colorado Unemployment Rate

  • The Colorado unemployment rate (UE) dropped from 6.7% in August to 6.4% in September, as the number of jobs increased slightly faster than the growth in the labor force.
  • The Colorado unemployment rate by gender trended down from August to September for both males and females.
  • Between August and September, the male unemployment rate dropped from 7.6% to 6.2%. Specifically, men below 35 years old saw a 2.86 percentage point decrease in the unemployment rate, a drop from 11.9% to 9%, while the UE rate for men over 35 only dropped by half a percentage point.
  • The UE rate for females below 35 increased slightly, whereas the UE rate for women older than 35 decreased by 2 percentage points.
  • The UE rate for each level of education dropped significantly; the UE rate for the group of some college or Associates degree declined by 3 percentage points.

Economic Health of Colorado

  • Initial unemployment insurance claims reached 104,000 in early April, and since then have decreased alongside the pandemic unemployment assistance claims.
  • Weekly continued regular unemployment insurance claims were well over 220,000 between late April to early August. As of the week ending Oct. 3, there were at 127,000 regular continued claims.
  • Over 683,355 business applications were filed nationally from second quarter to the third, with 9,663, or 1.4%, of those filed in Colorado.
  • Nationally there was an 82.8% increase in business applications from third quarter of 2019 to third quarter of 2020.

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