Fact check: How many women left the workforce during the pandemic?
Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, has emphasized the devastating economic effects of the pandemic as a reason why Americans need some of the social safeguards guaranteed in the Build Back Better bill. While speaking on MSNBC on Oct. 25, Allred pointed out the pandemic's disproportionate economic effect on women.Posted — Updated
Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been deadlocked over President Joe Biden's Build Back Better bill, which would fund Democratic social and economic goals, including free preschool education.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she wanted to see the bill put to a vote this week, though as of Friday the Congressional Budget Office had yet to score the bill and determine a final cost. Congress passed Biden's separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which he signed Monday.
"You've had over 2 million women drop out of the workforce during this pandemic," Allred said. He went on to highlight the provisions regarding pre-K and child care in the Build Back Better bill aimed to strengthen the workforce.
Is Allred right? Did more than 2 million women drop out of the workforce nationally during the pandemic?
Fewer women working
If you wanted to update those numbers, there were 75,737,000 women working in October 2021. The difference between that February 2020 value — before the March 2020 plummet — and October 2021 is nearly 1.8 million women.
So, there were 1.8 million fewer women in the labor force in October than in February 2020.
That shows a significant number of women have rejoined the workforce since February 2021, but the number of women working is still much lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Experts say many women dropped out of the workforce to take care of their children at the beginning of the pandemic, when many schools closed and children learned virtually.
Allred said on Oct. 25 while advocating for spending bills like the Build Back Better bill, "You've had over 2 million women drop out of the workforce during this pandemic."
He accurately cited a comparison of the number of women in the labor force from February 2020 to February 2021.
However, the most recent data indicates many women have rejoined the labor force since February and the net number of women who dropped out of the workforce is a lower number, but not far off from Allred's 2 million. Roughly 1.8 million fewer women ages 16 and over are in the workforce compared to February 2020.
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