The number of women in the workforce is the lowest it's been since 1988

Here's how the numbers break down.
Posted at 6:55 AM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 08:55:17-05

According to the Idaho Department of Labor, Idaho's unemployment rate is already beginning to bounce back after historic lows in March 2020, but the National Bureau of Labor Statistics says more demographics are getting back to work than others.

The report said the United States added tens of thousands of jobs in January, but despite the increase, the number of women in the workforce is the lowest it has been in more than 30 years.

"The data is very clear that women suffered disproportionately in this recession," explained Sam Wolkenhaur, a regional economist with the Idaho Department of Labor.

Data shows the number of women who have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic hit 2.3 million in January. The report shows 57 percent of American women are either actively working or looking for work--and that number hasn't been that low since 1988.

So why is that? The Idaho Department of Labor says they're not sure yet, but as schools shut down, a big factor could have been childcare.

"Usually in economics, there's a lot more to the story and all these factors we'll have to discover," Wolkenhaur said.

Talia Chase is a local business owner. She says she was fortunate to continue working, but she knows not everyone has been so lucky. Even though she was able to work it wasn't easy.

"They've had to stay home with their kids. It's not that we don't want to work but we also know we have a balance with our children," Chase said. "There were days I had to bring my kids with me. I couldn't drop them with my parents as I would normally do."

The Idaho Department of Labor doesn't have Idaho-specific data yet, but are hoping to have those numbers soon.