Female Unemployment During COVID

The global pandemic, COVID-19, has resulted in employment effects in multiple countries. These economic effects cause concerns for the entire population. However, women have been impacted by the pandemic effects at a disproportionate level in many countries. Analysis of employment effects, particularly the concerns affecting women, in the countries of the United States, India, Italy, France, Greece, and China, illustrates the unique ways women have been affected by the employment fallout resulting from the global pandemic.

United States

  • As of May 9, 2020, 36.5 million people in the United States had filed for unemployment, with 2.91 million claims filed during the week of May 9th as a direct result of COVID-19 closures and restrictions.
  • Women were most impacted by pandemic-related job loss din the united States, making up 55% of the 20.5 million lost jobs in April 2020.
    • More women lost their jobs in April 2020 than total female job loss in the 2010 recession in the US. This is attributed in part to female-dominated industries being hit the hardest by pandemic-related closures: hospitality, retail, education, and health care.
    • Effects of the pandemic on women and employment have raised concerns of erasing progress made by women in the workforce over the years. Women have been staying home more, due to job loss or remote work, and are tasked with balancing child care, child education, and work.
    • Concerns have been raised of mothers working from home being viewed as less than those returning to the office.
  • As of a June 5, 2020 report, the unemployment rate in the United States decreased to 13.3%, demonstrating a return to work for many of the country’s citizens.
  • Primary industries increasing employment in May 2020 were education, construction, healthcare, retail, leisure, and hospitality, though childcare concerns continue to hinder women returning to work.


  • It is predicted the economy of India will continue to suffer due to the pandemic effects, including job loss and decreased income for those who continue working.
  • The unemployment rate in India is at 24% currently, up from 8.1% as of March 1, 2020.
  • Indian women are considered the most impacted by the negative effects on employment due to COVID-19.
    • Women in India were becoming less present in the workforce prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and those who were working earned 35% less than men in similar roles.
    • The pandemic-related closures impacted the gender inequality in India further.
    • Employment often symbolizes freedom for women in India. However, more than 120 million Indian citizens, many of which were women, became unemployed in April 2020, due to the pandemic.
    • The United Nations noted effects of the pandemic on jobs may undo years of progress related to the workforce and inequality among genders in India and similar countries.


  • Italy has struggled with high unemployment rates for many years, but the country’s unemployment rate had decreased to 9.9% in 2019. The unemployment rate decreased further to 8.4% in March, but has since increased to 11.1% due to the pandemic effects.
  • More than 27,000 Italians lost their jobs in March. Many gave up attempting to find work, which made the unemployment rate appear lower than reality.
  • Women have been impacted more significantly than men by the pandemic response in Italy.
    • The unemployment rate of Italian women was 9.6%, while the unemployment rate of Italian men was 7.5% in March 2020.
    • The response to the pandemic in Italy has highlighted inequality concerns in the country, specifically due to the pandemic response being dominated by men, even though most nurses and doctors in Italy are women.
    • The pandemic response has triggered petitions and motions by Italians demanding equality across the genders.
    • Regarding returning to work, Italy contemplated returning women to work first, as men have been more affected by lethal effects of the virus. However, when looking at age ranges, younger women have been more impacted than their male counterparts, which clouds the decisions about methods of returning citizens to work.


  • More than 10 million private sector employees in France have lost their jobs due to pandemic layoffs. This represents 50% of private sector employees in France.
  • The unemployment rate for France was the lowest in 11 years during the first quarter of 2020, with a rate of 7.8%. However, this decline primarily was attributed to citizens not seeking jobs due to the pandemic lock down, and not due to any actual rise in employment.
  • Unemployment rates for men and women in France do not show a significant disparity, with 8.5% men and 8.9% women being unemployed in April 2020.
    • French women are noting increased strain on professional lives during the pandemic, as they attempt to balance work and childcare needs.
    • While the country begins to reopen employment, yet schools remain closed, many women in France are needing to remain home, and potentially unemployed, to ensure children have adequate care.


  • Greece has been identified as suffering the most out of the European Union due to the pandemic effects.
  • The unemployment rate in Greece rose to 19.9% in 2020, up from 17.3% in 2019.
  • A significant portion of Greece’s economy results from summer tourism, which has been severely impacted by pandemic-related restrictions and closures.
  • The unemployment rate of Greek women, 16.8%, has been significantly higher than the unemployment rate of Greek men, 12.6%, during the pandemic.
    • Prostitution is a legal profession for women in Greece, and many women in this profession are experiencing income problems due to pandemic-related restrictions.
    • Greece has several refugee camps, many of which house numerous women and children seeking asylum. Pandemic closures of these camps have increased homelessness among this population in Greece.


  • China’s economy was hit hard by the pandemic, leading to the deletion of tens of millions of jobs in urban areas.
  • Average salaries are 35% lower in China since the pandemic, due the resulting financial constraints.
  • Approximately 10% of those unemployed in China receive unemployment benefits, leaving many without assistance.
  • Women in China have been significantly impacted by the pandemic on multiple levels.
    • School closures have led many Asian women, including those in China, to remain home rather than reenter or remain in the workforce.
    • Chinese women are experiencing an increase in domestic violence incidents, as the lock downs have kept women and their partners indoors.
    • Health workers in China are 70% female, and these workers are being forced to work long shifts without breaks, including denial of nourishment or restroom breaks.
    • Migrant women working in China have no job security, leading them to lose all income when unable to work due to closures.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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