Women Losing Ground
The American Rescue Plan, which provides $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief, was designed to help displaced workers and cut child poverty rates in half. The actual benefits of the law may prove less sweeping.
Twenty-five states have opted to cut off additional federal unemployment payments, citing concerns that such generous benefits pay people more to stay home than they can earn by working.
Many women say they would like to return to work but have no one to take care of their children. Nearly half of child care centers have closed and others have reduced the number of children they serve.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis concluded that “economic recovery depends on child care availability.” A March report from the National Women’s Law Center estimates “women have lost a generation of labor force participation gains,” which could leave them and their children financially disadvantaged for years.
Ruth Bermudez is one of millions of women who have left the workforce in the past year. Bermudez, who was laid off from her job as a behavioral health caseworker in New Orleans last year, said her child care needs have prevented her from finding work. The care of her 6-year-old daughter became her full-time job after the pandemic closed schools.
Although her daughter has returned to class, Bermudez said school shutdowns due to covid outbreaks have been frequent and unpredictable.
“I had to be the teacher, the lunch lady, the school bus driver, all at one time,” said Bermudez, 27. “It is exhausting.”