More than 2.3 million women have left the labor force during the pandemic

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Posted at 7:47 PM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 19:47:36-04

INDIANAPOLIS — As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 2.3 million women have left the labor force nationwide.

It comes as jobs were cut in industries like retail and hospitality. Many working moms also had to make the choice to stay home with their children as daycares and schools closed for several months.

"We were working from home and I just got a call that my services were no longer needed, and that was it," Tosin Ajayi said.

The mother of two was working at a digital services and consulting company in downtown Indianapolis.

"When I lost my job, I was very devastated. I didn't know what to do and it was the pandemic and companies were shutting down things are going so wrong," she said.

Ajayi is a student at WGU Indiana where she is working to get her bachelor's degree in cybersecurity.

Alison Bell is the chancellor at WGU, where last year 70-percent of graduates were women.

"The majority of our students are women and so often women who have caregiving responsibilities and who work," Bell said. "In my role, I am highly aware of what a resource WGU Indiana is for women and what a lifeline we are. Women don't choose to, don't get to, don't feel free to step away from responsibilities at home in order to focus on work."

Bell said the amount of women who have lost jobs and left the labor force during the pandemic is very concerning.

"I just don't think enough attention is being paid to the disproportionate impact on women and particularly women of color," Bell said. "I think it's important to understand that one in 12 black women and one in 11 Latino women have lost their jobs are unemployed right now. That's an increase. That's directly as a result of the multiple barriers that women and women of color face as they pursue professional success."

Nearly eight in ten of the nearly 5.1 million jobs women have lost in the past year - came in these industries: leisure and hospitality, education and health, government, and retail, according to the National Women's Law Center.