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Women Drop Out of Workforce at Fastest Clip Since Virus Peak

Women, especially those in the age group most likely to have young children, are dropping out of the job market at the fastest pace since the height of the pandemic as many schools and child care centers remain closed.

Participation in the labor force by women between the ages of 25 to 54 dropped to 74.2% in September, down from 74.9% in August after nearly hitting an all-time record right before the virus hit, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department.

At the same time, Black Americans — who have been bearing much of the brunt of job losses in recent months — saw an improvement in their employment situation as the gap between Black and White joblessness narrowed for the first time since April.

Economists and Federal Reserve officials have repeatedly expressed concern about how women and minorities are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The setbacks are threatening to erase years of economic progress and could have long-lasting implications for the U.S recovery.

Women’s joblessness is at 8% while men’s is at 7.7%. In February, the female rate was lower than the male one. The number of women who reported being out of the labor force for family reasons jumped to 79,000 from 55,000 in August, the data show.

READ MORE: Women Who Helped Pull U.S. Out of Last Recession Now Fall Behind

The jobless rate for Black Americans — while improving — is almost double that of White Americans, after seeing a historic narrowing before the pandemic.

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