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A year into COVID, child care issues still affect mothers’ employment

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A mother and child look at each other as he holds her face.

Women's participation in the workforce is at a record low. Unaffordable child care and pay inequity are some of the reasons why. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

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The economic downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on women when it comes to job losses, and in particular mothers with young kids, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution.

Industries that employ a lot of women, like retail, have been among the hardest hit by job losses. The report found more than 1 in 10 mothers of young children had left a job, said Lauren Bauer, a fellow at Brookings.

“What we’re seeing here is that mothers had to leave their jobs to take care of their kids, and now they are struggling to get a new job,” Bauer said.

The report found Black mothers of young children, in particular, are having a hard time. C. Nicole Mason with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research said Black and Latinx women are overrepresented in service industries like hospitality.

“And in order to get paid, you have to show up physically to a location, so working at home is not an option for many of these workers,” she said.

School reopenings will alleviate some of the pressure, but the pandemic has decimated many day care businesses, particularly in lower-income communities.

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