'Shecession' of 2.1M American women leave labor market since start of pandemic, Chicago firm says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some experts call it the "shecession."

Staggering numbers of women leaving the labor market by both choice and force.

They say it's paving the way for serious U.S. economic implications in the future.

Cherita Ellens is the President and CEO of Chicago-based non-profit organization Women Employed.

"The risk of mothers leaving the labor force and reducing work hours will amount to $64.5 billion in lost wages in economic activity," said Cherita Ellens, President and CEO, Women Employed.

Chicago-based labor firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas released a report that found 2.1 million American women have left the job market since the onset of the pandemic.

"That's 20% more than the number of men that have left over the same period," said Andy Challenger, Senior VP, Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

He said companies need to be proactive now to shift this trend.

"They have to start now filling up their pipelines, with women, so that when the virus starts to clear, that can get them back into the workforce," said Challenger.

According to Ellens, the choice to leave is in part due to women disproportionately carrying the responsibility of caregiving in the U-S.

"Women are forced to make a decision, can they continue to do their job and still care for their children, and some women, obviously don't have the option and the privilege to be able to work from home," said Ellens.

According to the National Women's Law Center, since the pandemic started, women have lost more than 5.4 million jobs.

Advocates like Ellens say the solution starts with employers and more women at the decision-making table.

"Caregiving support, childcare subsidies: There are solutions that are out there that many of us are advocating for that we need everyone to help amplify because all of these things will help right help all of us come out of this recovery in a more equitable way," Ellens said.

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