In April, more than 20 million people filed for unemployment as the virus forced businesses to close their doors from coast to coast.
In New York City, healthcare, social work, education services, retail, and restaurants and bars reported some of the greatest job losses.
A majority of the people employed in all of those industries, except for the restaurant and bar industry, were also women, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Women had held roughly 77% of healthcare jobs, 78% of social work related jobs, 63% of education services jobs, 52% of retail jobs and 45% of jobs in the restaurant and bar industry in New York City.
Jena Ellenwood is among those women laid off from their jobs. Like many, this pandemic, marked her first time requesting unemployment benefits.
"The anxiety was through the roof," said Ellenwood, a bartender and cocktail educator in Astoria prior to the pandemic. "I have never not had a job since I was 15. Sometimes, I have two or three jobs."
Ellenwood said she's spent the past couple months reading, cleaning, learning to edit video, and building up her website and YouTube channel which features cocktail tutorials.
It doesn't make up for the live classes Ellenwood had begun offering or the cocktail competitions she'd been preparing to compete in.
"I was building something I was really proud of," she said. "My business cards were just getting delivered and now I'm in my apartment."
Adding to the sadness, Ellenwood said she misses her co-workers at The Sparrow Tavern, where she had worked for over a decade.
"We are like our own weird little 'Cheers,'" Ellenwood said. "And now, you can't see anyone. It's heartbreaking."
With NYC still unable to reopen, Ellenwood isn't sure when she'll return to work at the Sparrow Tavern. She says the waiting is difficult.
"A lot of crying," Ellenwood said. "How do we come back from this? I still don't know."
Other women have expressed similar concerns.
"We are in crisis right now," said Nifiteria Marsh, who lost her tourism job.
"It's miserable," said Laurie Ann Cruz, who lost her bookkeeping job.
"If I could be working right now I would," said Kristy DiSipio, who lost her job in healthcare.
"We do have one pay check coming into our household which is my husband's," said Hannah Centner, whose restaurant closed.
Historically, women have been unemployed at a slightly lower rate than men. In April 2019, the unemployment rate for women was 3.4% while the unemployment rate for men was 3.8%.
By April 2020, during the height of the pandemic, the unemployment rate for women climbed to 16.2% outpacing the unemployment rate for men, which reached 13.5%.
Because so many of the service related industries deemed unessential amid the health crisis, had a greater share of female workers, females also stood to face the greatest number of job losses.
The strain only begins to account for the number of women thrust out of the workforce by the pandemic.
The unemployment rate does not begin to calculate the number of lost hours women have experienced taking time off or quitting jobs entirely to fill a childcare gap created by the pandemic.
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