LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- As the pandemic continues to impact our daily lives, shocking new report shows hundreds of thousands of women, nearly four times more than the number of men, dropped out of the U.S. labor force last month.
For as long as she can remember, Patricia Blick has had a job.
“When I was in elementary school, I had a newspaper route. I babysat. I did horseback riding lessons when I was in middle school and high school,” said Patricia Blick.
A career woman at heart, she never thought there would be a day where she would possibly be without one.
“When school shut down in March at the end of the school year it was a challenge,” said Blick.
Blick, the executive director of a small non-profit in Little Rock, and a mom of a teenager, was faced with a difficult decision in the midst of the pandemic.
“As much as I love my job and the people I work with and believe in our mission, I honestly thought to myself, do I need to leave and homeschool my daughter because there was just so much uncertainty,” said Blick.
Blick is not alone. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 800,000 women left the workforce in September alone, compared with a little more than 200,000 men. Half of the women who dropped out were in the prime working-age of 35-44.
“Women have made such profound steps in the workforce that this just felt like we were taking just a major step back,” said Sarah-Catherine Gutierrez, CEO of Aptus Financial.
Sarah-Catherine Gutierrez is the CEO of Aptus Financial in Little Rock. She said the reason behind these staggering statistics is because women are more likely to take on caregiving responsibilities at home. She calls this time a very important wake-up call for all women.
“The question is what can we do with our finances right now if we are still working full-time, we are not furloughed we aren’t laid off and we are making a living wage. What can we do now with this wake-up call to say I don’t want to find myself in that position,” said Gutierrez.
Gutierrez said the most important step a woman can take is setting up an emergency fund.
“An emergency is losing a job for 3-6 months. That is a major emergency and that is what we need to be putting away for,” said Gutierrez.
Thankfully for Blick, she and her family were able to come up with a plan so she can stay at the job she loves. However, she knows it’s not an option for everyone.
“I was in a position where I had a choice, to a certain extent, but for some people, it may not be what they want to do, but it may be what they have to do and that’s unfortunate. They don’t have another option,” said Blick.
Gutierrez said another reason women have been forced to leave the workforce is the shutdown of the hospitality and retail industries that have been dominated by women employees.