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Millennial mothers without college degrees return to work


Labor-force participation among working parents is back to what it was before the pandemic, according to a new analysis from Glassdoor, and the largest gains are being seen among mothers without college degrees.

According to the report, released Friday in observance of Working Parents Day, millennial-age parents with children under five are now participating in the workforce at record levels, with the increase being driven by mothers who didn’t attend or finish college.

However, those same workers were also the ones most impacted by the pandemic, the report says, likely because they tend to work in jobs that can’t be performed remotely. By contrast, college-educated millennial mothers with young children did not see a significant drop in their workplace participation when the world shifted dramatically toward remote work in 2020. Labor-force participation among that group has been steadily progressing over the past five years, according to Glassdoor.

Millennial parents (born 1980-1996) with young children. [Source: Glassdoor analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Current Population Survey, made available by the University of Minnesota, IPUMS-CPS, 2000-2022]

Glassdoor’s report, which analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau, defines millennials as people born between 1980 and 1996. This cohort now represents almost 80% of parents with young children.

Working women in general—whether they were parents or not—were more impacted by the pandemic than their male counterparts, and Glassdoor’s analysis shows that working moms felt the impact more than working dads, and that mothers with younger children had it even tougher. “This supports the notion that women continue to bear a disproportionate burden of childcare responsibilities,” writes Aaron Terrazas, Glassdoor’s chief economist.

The report comes as labor shortages continue to dog industries from manufacturing and retail to healthcare. According to Glassdoor’s analysis, the U.S. workforce could immediately increase by two million workers if parents participated at the same rate as adults without children.





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