More women leaving workforce during coronavirus pandemic

PITTSBURGH — Women are leaving the workforce at a rate four times higher than men. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports for September, 865,000 women left their jobs compared to 216,000.

Working mom Brittany Radomski spoke to us over Zoom with her two children nearby, hopping on the call to say hi too.

“Sometimes it feels like the work never stops,” she said.

Never has there been a truer statement to working parents than that. But the pandemic has made it just too hard for some of them to do both.

According to a study by the National Women’s Law Center, more than a million people left the workforce in September.

“When you factor in what childcare is probably going to cost us and just the logistics of hybrid school being home certain days, and the fact that as a fill in pharmacist I don’t have a regular schedule,” Radomski said.

After a lot of thought, the mom from Fox Chapel decided to stop working during the week as a fill in pharmacist at Rite Aid and is only working some weekends now. It wasn’t feasible for her husband to cut his 60 hours a week down.

“You kind of look at yourself and wonder ‘am I contributing enough to the family financially?’ And sometimes you have to remind yourself that there is value in stepping back when you have to,” Radomski said.

While it’s a choice I certainly understand, I’m concerned about the long-term impact on the decision to leave the workforce,” said Megan Rose, the director of the Center for Women in Pittsburgh-National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh.

She notes when women leave their jobs they’re not contributing to their retirement.

“And they’re not getting into those positions of power where they can create the policies that make sure that the workplace is a place where both men and women can be successful.”

Rose sees the wage gap between women and men increasing because of the pandemic. Which is one of the reasons she says more women are the ones leaving the workforce-because they’re not the breadwinner in the household. That, coupled with a lack of childcare and school hours not being conducive to working parents' schedules, are issues that have been around, but Megan says the pandemic is exposing them.

“I think we have to acknowledge that this is a moment where we can advocate for workplaces and to employers to create more hospitable environments for working parents, working moms,” Rose said.

“I think that we’re not quite there yet but I’m hoping that the job becomes more working mom friendly and that some of the work can be done from home,” Radomski said.

The Center for Women has been hosting virtual training for women finding themselves in a position like Brittany. Here’s a link to their resources: https://www.ncjwpgh.org/programs/center-for-women/