Working-class women, and especially working-class mothers, have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic “shecession.” From April to December 2020, 1.45 million fewer working-class mothers were employed compared to the same time period in 2019, an 11.3 percent decline. Many working-class mothers who lost jobs exited the labor force altogether, and the participation gap between mothers with and without bachelor’s degrees widened to 13.3 percentage points in 2020.
Among other things, working-class women are less likely to have access to paid family and medical leave, and have less of a financial cushion to fall back on in the absence of these benefits.
The American Families Plan announced this week contains sorely needed provisions to fill these gaps, including affordable high-quality childcare, universal preschool, and a comprehensive national paid leave program.
These policies are essential to ensuring that the millions of working-class women who have lost jobs during the pandemic, as well as the millions who have continued working in essential industries throughout the crisis, no longer have to choose between their livelihoods and the health and well-being of themselves or their families.