Women in These 10 Industries Have Been Impacted Most by COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the workforce in many ways, especially for women. While women have made great strides in closing the gender pay gap over the last several decades, the pandemic ground those efforts to a halt as it forced millions of women out of the workforce.

Check Out: 5 Industries That Experienced a Surprise Boom Despite COVID-19
Find Out More: The 3 Biggest Barriers to Women Reentering the Workforce

To understand how the pandemic has impacted women’s employment, GOBankingRates analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Surveys for 2019 and 2021. The data revealed that the total unemployment rate for women 16 years and older was 3.6% in 2019. That rate rose to 5.2% in 2021, creating a difference of 1.6 percentage points. This means the total unemployment rate for women increased by 44.44% from 2019 through 2021.

According to GOBankingRates’ analysis, women faced the greatest employment setbacks in the following 10 industries.

Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction

  • Unemployment rate for women, 2019: 2.0%
  • Unemployment rate for women, 2021: 6.3%
  • # change in unemployment rate for women: 4.3
  • % change in unemployment rate for women: 215.00%

Establishments in this sector include those that extract naturally occurring mineral solids, liquid minerals and natural gases. This can include quarrying, well operations, crushing, screening, washing and flotation as well as other related activities at mine sites.

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Motion Pictures and Sound Recording Industries

  • Unemployment rate for women, 2019: 5.1%
  • Unemployment rate for women, 2021: 13.7%
  • # change in unemployment rate for women: 8.6
  • % change in unemployment rate for women: 168.63%

Workers in this sector produce and distribute films and sound recordings. This includes establishments that contract with performers, create the film or sound content, or provide technical postproduction services.

Private Households

  • Unemployment rate for women, 2019: 4.7%
  • Unemployment rate for women, 2021: 9.6%
  • # change in unemployment rate for women: 4.9
  • % change in unemployment rate for women: 104.26%

Working roles in this sector include cooks, maids, butlers, gardeners, caretakers and other maintenance workers.

Transportation and Warehousing

  • Unemployment rate for women, 2019: 4.2%
  • Unemployment rate for women, 2021: 8.3%
  • # change in unemployment rate for women: 4.1
  • % change in unemployment rate for women: 97.62%

Jobs that involve transporting passengers or cargo — including for scenic or sightseeing purposes — as well as warehousing or storing goods fall into this sector.

Accommodation and Food Services

  • Unemployment rate for women, 2019: 5.1%
  • Unemployment rate for women, 2021: 10.0%
  • # change in unemployment rate for women: 4.9
  • % change in unemployment rate for women: 96.08%
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Establishments in this sector provide customers with lodging or prepare meals, snacks and beverages for immediate consumption. Many establishments do both, such as resorts or certain hotels.

Important: How the Rise of Remote Work Is Empowering Women

Transportation and Utilities

  • Unemployment rate for women, 2019: 3.9%
  • Unemployment rate for women, 2021: 7.6%
  • # change in unemployment rate for women: 3.7
  • % change in unemployment rate for women: 94.87%

This supersector includes four sectors: 1) wholesale trade, which includes jobs related to wholesaling merchandise and related services; 2) retail trade, which includes jobs engaging in retailing merchandise and related services; 3) transportation and warehousing, which includes establishments that transport passengers or cargo or that store goods and support related activities; and 4) utilities, which covers establishments that provide electric power, natural gas, steam or water supply and sewage removal.

Leisure and Hospitality

  • Unemployment rate for women, 2019: 5.2%
  • Unemployment rate for women, 2021: 9.9%
  • # change in unemployment rate for women: 4.7
  • % change in unemployment rate for women: 90.38%

The leisure and hospitality supersector is comprised of two sectors: arts, entertainment and recreation, which covers public live performances and recreational activities; and accommodation and food services, which covers businesses that offer lodging, meals, snacks or beverages.

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation

  • Unemployment rate for women, 2019: 5.2%
  • Unemployment rate for women, 2021: 9.6%
  • # change in unemployment rate for women: 4.4
  • % change in unemployment rate for women: 84.62%
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This sector covers establishments involved in the performing arts, spectator sports, gambling and recreation or amusement activities. It also includes museums, historical sites and similar establishments.

Real Estate and Rental and Leasing

  • Unemployment rate for women, 2019: 2.3%
  • Unemployment rate for women, 2021: 4.1%
  • # change in unemployment rate for women: 1.8
  • % change in unemployment rate for women: 78.26%

This sector covers organizations engaged in renting, leasing or granting users access to assets. Assets can be tangible, such as real estate, equipment or cars, or intangible, such as patents and trademarks.

Wholesale Trade

  • Unemployment rate for women, 2019: 3.3%
  • Unemployment rate for women, 2021: 5.7%
  • # change in unemployment rate for women: 2.4
  • % change in unemployment rate for women: 72.73%

Jobs involved in wholesaling merchandise — including in the agriculture, mining, manufacturing and publishing industries — fall into this sector.

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: In order to find the industries where women have been impacted most by COVID-19, GOBankingRates looked at the 2019 and 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Unemployed persons by industry, class of worker, and sex”. With these two data sets, GOBankingRates was able to find both the 2019 and 2021 unemployment rate for women by industry/sector as well as the percent and numerical change in unemployment for women from 2019 to 2021 by industry/sector. Those ten with the highest percent change in unemployment rate for women were included. All data was collected and is up to date as of February 24, 2022.

About the Author

Jenny Rose Spaudo is content strategist and copywriter specializing in personal and business finance, investing, real estate, and PropTech. Her clients include Edward Jones, Flyhomes, PropStream, and Real Estate Accounting Co. As a journalist, her work has appeared in Business Insider, GOBankingRatesMovieguide®, and various smaller publications. She’s also ghostwritten a book and hundreds of articles for CEOs and thought leaders. Before going freelance, Jenny Rose was the online news director for Charisma Media, where she oversaw three online magazines, hosted a daily news podcast, and managed the editorial content for the company’s robust podcast network. In 2014, she graduated summa cum laude from Stetson University with bachelor’s degrees in Communication & Media Studies and Spanish. During her college career, she won two awards for her research and was named “Top Senior” in both her majors. Find her at jennyrosespaudo.com and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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