Unemployment rates for women hit highest on record

Published: May. 13, 2020 at 1:36 PM CDT
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According to the Women’s Foundation and the Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the unemployment rate for women has reached the highest rate on record.

In April the women’s unemployment was recorded at about 16% which is three points higher than the men’s unemployment rate. This is the first time women have experienced an unemployment rate in the double digits since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting data by gender in 1948.

“These alarming numbers confirm the warning signs our data identified early on and underscore the urgency of implementing policies that will support women and families during this difficult time,” says Wendy Doyle, President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation. “Women are experiencing an unemployment crisis unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes, with low-income women and women of color shouldering a disproportionate share of the burden. Now more than ever, policies like paid family leave are urgently needed to help women and families weather and recover from this unprecedented crisis.”

The Women’s Foundation and mySidewalk released a new

demonstrating how women in Missouri and Kansas are being disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the data almost 80% of healthcare professionals are women in Missouri and Kansas. Nationwide, women make up about 75% of the healthcare work force.

Women are also still being paid less than men in many healthcare occupations. Women registered nurses in Missouri and Kansas make 77 cents and 80 cents, respectively, for every dollar earned by men in the same job.

Women also make up the majority of the service-sector employees in Missouri and Kansas that are being impacted by the economic fallout of the virus. In Missouri women make up almost 58% of the sector while in Kansas women make up over 59% of it.

Women-owned small business owners are also taking a hit. They make up a little over 8% of businesses around the nation, just over 10% in Missouri and almost 8% in Kansas.

In Missouri 1 in 4 families are single mother households while in Kansas the number is 1 in 5. Women in both states are also less likely to be uninsured.

The Women’s Foundation recommends that paid family and medical leave for women be bumped up to 12 weeks with full pay for all part and full-time workers. Paid leave like this would allow people to take time off to care for a child, loved-one or themselves without sacrificing their income.

The Foundation is also pushing for gender pay equity. The pay gap makes women more vulnerable to economic downturns because they are paid less than their male counterparts. They say salary history bans and funded pay negotiation workshops help close the gap and promote equal pay for equal work.

Lastly the Women’s Foundation says there should be occupational licensing reform. COVID-19 has underscored the need for professional licenses to be more transferable and flexible, especially for those in the healthcare field. Their research has found that occupational licensing, which intends to protect the safety of the public, can often create unnecessary barriers for women entrepreneurs by restricting entry and re-entry into professions. This reduces employment and creates economic inequity.

The current report builds on previous research done by the Women’s Foundation. For more information visit the

Their mission is to research and use data to inform solutions and get results for women and families.