More than 2 million women have dropped out of the labor force this year 

In late October, Courtney Allen got the call she had been waiting for: A school district asked if she could come back as a substitute teacher, but she had to turn down the job.

Her kindergartner and first-grade sons are still at home all day, learning virtually. Allen is part of a wave of women having to make difficult decisions that will affect family finances, as well as the broader U.S. economy, for years to come, The Washington Post reports. 

On Friday, the Labor Department’s jobs report showed that the economy has gained back just over half of the jobs lost in March and April, but the situation remains dire for women. There are 2.2 million fewer women working or looking for work now than in January, vs. 1.5 million fewer men, according to the Labor Department data.

Put another way, women have recovered only about 39% of the big drop in the labor force they suffered in the spring, while men have recovered 58% of their jobs. Much of the difference in these diverging fortunes for men and women boils down to moms having to stop working to take care of kids.

When the pandemic first escalated in the spring, women lost more jobs than men because women are more likely to work in restaurants, hair salons, hotels and retail stores—the industries hardest hit as people stayed home. Over the summer, both men and women saw solid gains as the economy reopened and some jobs returned.

But that changed in September. Just as the school year began, 865,000 women dropped out of the labor force, compared with 216,000 men. In October, men gained back all their modest September losses, while only about half of women returned. Read the full story.