Dec 16, 2020 - Economy & Business

A year of erased progress in the workplace

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pandemic didn't just move us forward in terms of workplace transformations — it also moved us back, erasing decades of workplace progress and deepening existing societal inequalities.

Why it matters: It could take years to reach the levels of equity that existed before the coronavirus ravaged the U.S. economy.

1. A generation of American women has been set back.

In February, before the pandemic, women in the U.S. hit a milestone. For the first time in history, they held the majority of non-farm payroll jobs, outnumbering men in the workforce.

  • Since then, nearly 900,000 women have dropped out of the labor force, primarily due to pandemic-era child care responsibilities.

2. The pandemic has deepened the divide between the two worlds of work.

"We're seeing a really strong dichotomy between white-collar and blue-collar work," says Levit, the workplace expert. "We treat our front-line workers like cogs in the machine."

  • Front-line workers represent around 80% of the workforce, but they've received just 1% of the tech investment since the onset of the pandemic, per Levit's research.
  • While companies dove into providing mental health resources and Zoom happy hours to keep their white-collar workers sane and happy, little attention was paid to burnout among essential workers.

Go deeper with my reporting on these troubling trends from earlier this year:

Go deeper