Jan 15, 2021 - Health

Women's health care jobs aren't coming back as fast as men's

Illustrated collage of two healthcare workers, one with and one without scrubs.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Health care jobs held by women have come back much more slowly than jobs held by men, mirroring trends in the economy overall.

Why it matters: The vast majority of health care workers infected with COVID-19 have been women, and they've borne the brunt of the industry's economic woes, too.

Reproduced from an Altarum report; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from an Altarum report; Chart: Axios Visuals

By the numbers: Women outnumber men in the health care workforce, but they've suffered steeper job losses because of the pandemic.

  • 79% of health care jobs held by men have returned to the workforce, compared to only 62% for women, according to a recent report from Altarum.
  • Nurses, nursing assistants and medical assistants lost their jobs in large numbers early in the pandemic, due to the freeze on elective procedures.
  • And while most of the industry added jobs in the last quarter of 2020, jobs in nursing homes and residential care facilities — which are disproportionately held by women — haven't returned.

"That’s really moving from a short-term pandemic impact to a long-term economic impact," said Corwin Rhyan, a co-author of the Altarum report.

  • "The longer that anyone is detached from the labor force and remain unemployed, the more likely that is to have long-term impacts on their future employment and their future earnings potential," he said.

Between the lines: School closures and a lack of safe child-care options have made it much harder for mothers to reenter the workforce, whether they work in health care or not.

  • "We see moms experiencing significant wage hits just for being moms and moms of color experiencing the most significant wage hits," said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director at MomsRising.
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