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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

Instacart to provide $25 stipend to shoppers who get COVID-19 vaccine

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Grocery delivery company Instacart says it will provide a $25 stipend to its workers who take time off to get vaccinated for COVID-19 in the U.S. and Canada starting on February.

Why it matters: Some companies in retail and services are beginning to announce incentives to get their workforces vaccinated sooner rather than later — both for the workers' safety and the companies' own bottom lines.

Mike Allen, author of AM
7 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.

Read: Pete Buttigieg's opening statement ahead of confirmation hearing

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, in December. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.