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Canadian women leaving work during pandemic while men finding more jobs

Summary

RBC report says men picking up jobs three times the rate women are leaving the workforce

More than 20,000 women left the workforce between February and October

68,000 men joined the workforce between February and October

VANCOUVER (CityNews) — A new report from Royal Bank says men are picking up jobs at three times the rate that women are leaving the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RBC study is reporting more than 20,000 women left the workforce between February and October, while 68,000 men joined in the same period.

While the pandemic plays a role in the women leaving the workforce, demands of raising children are also likely to blame, according to the study.

An economics professor at SFU, Simon Woodcock, explains to CityNews he isn’t particularly surprised by the study results.

“In many instances, this probably reflects a shift in child-rearing responsibilities. An absence of childcare opportunities outside the home, and a shift towards homeschooling, and for a variety of reasons, it’s predominantly been women with kids who have taken on those additional responsibilities in the home,” Woodcock says.

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Mothers with children under six made up only 41 per cent of the labour force in February – but they made up two-thirds of the women leaving work according to the RBC.

And for women who aren’t raising children, they are reportedly returning to school to upgrade skills.

But RBC suggests that women’s search for work has been relatively slower than their male counterparts because they are more likely to work in industries slower to recover from the pandemic – like arts, retail, and hospitality, to name a few.

As for the men, the study says they’re picking up more science and tech jobs – and these sectors have seen growth during the pandemic.

“I think it’s somewhat surprising that we’ve seen an increase in labour force participation amongst men over the same period,” Woodcock says.

While it’s still unclear what it means for the future of economic mobility between genders, Woodcock says this will certainly pose challenges for broad economic recovery.

“Many households, especially in expensive cities like Vancouver, rely on two incomes to afford housing and everything else. And I think there are reasons to be concerned about how this affects household budgets and spending going forward, and that’s going to have an impact on the speed of economic recovery.”