Expert: Women see larger economic impact in pandemic


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — An economist with Western Michigan University says the pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on women.

Dr. Jean Kimmel says in April of 2020, when stay-at-home orders were most expansive, the unemployment rate for men was 13.6% and 16.1% for women.

The labor force participation rate for women has also dropped more than men during the pandemic.    

Kimmel says job losses, like in the restaurant industry, tend to impact women more.

“Women compared to men are a little bit more likely to be working part time and therefore lower-wage jobs because of family commitments,” Kimmel said.

She says online learning also tends to fall more on women than men.

“They’re much more likely to be bearing the burden of the need to be with their children,” Kimmel said.

Shawn Knash, the owner of Fitbody Bootcamp in Portage, says she has experienced new challenges caused by the pandemic firsthand.

“I have two small kids at home, so I had to learn to be a teacher while running a household. So there’s a lot of sleepless nights worrying about a business and just figuring out how to make it all work,” Knash said.

Knash says she has many clients, especially mothers working in the restaurant industry, having challenges finding work.

“It’s not that they aren’t looking. It’s not that they’re not sending out resumes daily, but it’s just, it’s a tough spot to be in right now,” Knash said.

Shawn says her husband is an essential worker, so she had to take the lead with online learning with their kids. Despite the challenges, she is hopeful the economy will soon recover.

“You just have to keep moving forward,” Knash said.

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