U.S. Women, Hispanic Workers Face Bleak Start to 2021 Job Market

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Women and workers of color continue to bear the brunt of job losses as the coronavirus rages across the U.S.

Unemployment for women and Hispanic workers rose in December for the first time in eight months, eroding recent improvement and capping a devastating year for these groups, Labor Department data showed Friday. The unemployment rate for Hispanic workers rose to 9.3% while female joblessness climbed to 6.7%.

The U.S.lost 140,000 jobs last month, largely in the leisure and hospitality industry, which employs a large share of women and minorities. The pandemic has erased years of economic progress for women and Black and Hispanic workers, and economists say those losses are poised to continue until the virus is under control.

“The winter is going to be pretty tough for those workers,” said Julia Coronado, founder of research firm MacroPolicy Perspectives LLC.

Hispanic Americans saw the highest jobless rate during the pandemic, as nearly one in five workers were unemployed in April. Unemployment rates for both Black workers, who actually saw a drop in joblessness last month, and Hispanic Americans both remain elevated compared to White workers.

Women, who before the pandemic were entering the labor force at rates not seen since the early 2000s, saw a reversal in that trend last year. The share of women between the ages of 25 and 54, so-called prime-age workers and also those most likely to have young children at home, who were either employed or looking for a job, dropped to 73.5% in April from 76.9% before the pandemic.

The total number of women on payrolls shrank for the first time since April, dropping to 70.9 million from 71 million in November.

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