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Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

New data from the Pew Research Center shows that parents are being hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and as far as job losses go, mothers and fathers are faring equally poorly.

Why it matters: Economists have been warning for months that the pandemic could do long-term damage to the economy as people remain unemployed for longer stretches of time.

  • And the decline of women's growth as a share of the labor force reverses what had been a broad-based economic tailwind for the U.S.

What's happening: "[O]ver the first six months of the outbreak, the labor market impact of COVID-19 has similarly affected mothers and fathers, and the wide gulf that exists in the workplace engagement of mothers and fathers persists virtually unchanged," Pew writes.

  • "The share of mothers and fathers who were employed and at work plunged with the onset of the coronavirus outbreak and had recovered only partially through September 2020."
  • "The gender gap in September (22 percentage points) is slightly greater than in February (20 points), but a similar gap was also present in September 2019."

What we're hearing: "If you want to maximize economic growth, you want all working age adults to be engaged with the labor market at their maximum capacity," Misty Heggeness, a visiting scholar at the Minneapolis Fed, tells Axios.

  • "We're cutting ourselves short as a society."

The big picture: "There is no new normal to this. It just keeps getting worse every day," says Alicia Modestino, an economics professor at Northeastern University and a former senior economist at the Boston Fed.

  • "When you look down the barrel of hybrid or remote learning for an entire year, as a working parent you just want to cry."

By the numbers: In addition to the decline of parents who are employed and at work, more parents also are dropping out of the labor force altogether, Pew's data show. That means they're not looking for work.

  • The percentage of mothers not in the labor force jumped to 29.1% in September from 26.4% in September 2019.
  • For fathers, the rate has increased to 7.8% from 6.2%.

The bottom line: The U.S. economy is losing workers, which will ultimately make the country less productive.

  • The share of women employed and at work is the lowest it has been in 35 years.
  • The share of men at work is the lowest it has ever been.

Editor's note: This piece was corrected to show the share of women employed and at work is the lowest it's been for 35 years (not 25 years).

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 21, 2021 - Health

Fighting COVID-19's effects on gender equality

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Women around the world have borne a disproportionate brunt of the social and economic effects of COVID-19.

Why it matters: Women in the U.S. and around the world already faced an unequal playing field before the pandemic. As countries prepare for the post-COVID-19 world, they need to take special care to ensure the virus doesn't permanently set back the cause of gender equality.

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Amazon does not sufficiently distinguish between its search results and paid ads, potentially "deceiving millions of consumers," according to a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Joan Moriarty, research director for the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that filed the complaint, told the Washington Post the group is "very hopeful" that the FTC will investigate the complaint because Lina Khan (D), a known Amazon critic, is now chair.

3 hours ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.