Pandemic erases decades of growth for women in the workforce

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Millions of women were laid off or forced to leave the workforce because of the pandemic erasing decades of progress.

Steph Pagliaro was living out her dream last year by serving as an on-field host for the Harrisburg Senators and Communications Manager. However, just months into her job the pandemic hit.

“When it became evident that we were not going to have a season that was when some of us got laid off,” said Pagliaro.

The news was crushing because this was her second layoff in a year. She was let go from her job as co-host of the radio show ‘The Morning Madhouse’ on HOT 106.7.

Pagliaro is one of the millions of women who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

The most recent jobs report shows that for the first time this year women left the workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows 165,000 women left the workforce compared to 350,000 men who joined it.

Dickinson College Professor Ebru Kongar researches gender and economic development.

“During the pandemic, we hit a low we have not had since 1987. So the pandemic erased the achievements in women participation rates in the pandemic since the 1980s,” said Kongar.

There’s also racial disparity.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate for Hispanics or Latinos is 7.9% for Blacks or African Americans it is 9.7%.

So what will spark change?

“You need jobs that are providing decent pay. You need affordable and good quality child care. You need paid family leave,” said Kongar.

Pagliaro was able to return to work. The Harrisburg Senators are playing baseball again.

“I still can’t believe it some days because for six or eight months I was unemployed and not sure what I was going to do next. And to get that call, it’s just like everything is going to be ok.”

She also knows that not everyone is like her. She has some words of encouragement for others who are struggling with unemployment.

“It was really about trying to stay busy and doing things that make you feel like you had a purpose in the meantime. Just trying to hold on to faith that things will get better because it doesn’t always feel that way.”

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