New TIME’S UP analysis finds women’s economic well-being in jeopardy due to ‘perfect storm’ of pandemic and long standing gender, racial inequities

TIME’S UP: Caregiving Investments Would Create 1.6 Million Jobs for Women, Spur Economic Growth

Washington, DC — Caregiving investments proposed in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan would dramatically increase women’s economic outlook and improve the economic health of the country, according to the TIME’S UP Foundation. Under the proposed plans, at least 1.6 million new jobs for women would be created and at least three million women currently constrained by caregiving responsibility would be enabled to join the labor force in the first year alone. 

Women’s employment is essential to building a strong and robust economy, according to a new report released by TIME’S UP Foundation’s signature initiative, Time’s Up, Measure Up. Women’s labor force participation is at the lowest level since 1988, and more than 3.4 million women have lost jobs since February 2020 and have not found employment. Addressing the current labor force participation crisis must be a foundational policy priority.

“Last year erased decades of women’s economic progress, forcing millions of women to leave their jobs, and creating a crisis for women’s participation in the labor force,” said Stephanie Odiase, senior manager of research and partnerships at TIME’S UP Foundation and co-author of the report. “This decline is not only harmful to women but to our entire economy, which relies on the contributions of women. We know that women can spur our economic recovery and create a more equitable and inclusive economy that benefits everyone.”

The recovery of the U.S. economy requires significant investments in care infrastructure that recognizes women’s paid work and caregiving responsibilities. A ‘perfect storm’ of pandemic-induced job loss and decades of racial and gender inequities has jeopardized women’s economic well-being and created a crisis for women’s participation in the labor force. The addition of three million women would increase women’s labor force participation by approximately 2.2 percentage points, erasing a generation of pre-COVID-19 declines. 

“The economy cannot survive without women,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Foundation. “Our policies and failures to recognize women’s paid work and role as caregivers has brought us to this tipping point. This crisis is even more acute for economically disadvantaged Black, Latinx, and other women of color for whom COVID-19 simply compounded long standing racial and gender inequities. Today, millions of women are facing an economic crisis that can only be addressed by deep institutional investments in caregiving and prioritizes women’s participation in our economy.”

The policy barriers to women’s participation in the labor force have origins long before the pandemic and date back to our nation’s founding. The United States is one of the only countries in the world that does not provide paid leave to parents and other caregivers. Unlike most industrialized nations, the U.S. does not have a public system of comprehensive early care and education. Efforts to invest in care infrastructure have been blocked by the common bonds forged between social conservatives and neoliberal economists who share outdated cultural beliefs about gender, class, race, and family. 

“We must seize this opportunity to embrace a true paradigm shift in how we think about, legislate, and support women’s paid work and the essential role of caregivers in our economy,” said Jessica Forden, senior manager of research at TIME’S UP Foundation and co-author of the report. “This requires a new economic framework that rejects the notion that only certain families represent the cultural ideal that should be aspired to. It’s time to embrace a new economy that centers security and dignity and recognizes the central role of women.” 

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Time’s Up, Measure Up
Time’s Up, Measure Up is a five-year initiative to study and report on the impact of gender and racial inequities that have only grown with the COVID-19 crisis. The initiative fills critical knowledge gaps, drawing on quantitative data, qualitative research, and personal stories to help us understand — and solve — these problems. We are keeping women front and center in policy conversations in the short term, as well as challenging the deeply embedded sexist and racist attitudes that have held women back in our economy and our society for far too long. This initiative was funded with the early and critical support of Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda French Gates.

TIME’S UP Foundation

The TIME’S UP™ Foundation insists upon safe, fair, and dignified work for all by changing culture, companies, and laws. We enable more people to seek justice through the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund™. We pioneer innovative research driving toward solutions to address systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace through the TIME’S UP Impact Lab. And we reshape key industries from within so they serve as a model for all industries. The TIME’S UP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.