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Unlike most previous economic crises, the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women, forcing millions out of the workforce at much higher rates than men as they shoulder the weight of tending to children in a remote learning environment and caring for the needs of other loved ones.

What does this mean for the many women struggling to return to the workforce now or in the near future? How has this economic crisis affected the decades-long struggle for pay equity? How do we help women and their families weather the pandemic in the immediacy and what types of systemic changes are needed to better support women economically moving forward?

All of these questions and more were explored at the New Jersey State Treasurer's Symposium on COVID, Women & the Economy held on June 4, 2021. A special thank you to all who participated and attended the event, which brought together leading economists, academics, and policy makers to size up the landscape and present solutions on what New Jersey – and the nation – can do to better support women in the workforce in order to build a stronger economy for all. The discussion was hosted by State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio and featured virtual appearances from Governor Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy and Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver.

To view the full symposium, please visit the link below. More information on the event and panel participants can be found on our event page.

View the Full Symposium

Please note: The Department of Treasury continues to assess the data and insights discussed at the symposium to fuel the implementation of policies directed towards alleviating and eradicating the challenges that have resulted in the disproportionate economic struggles faced by women. This page will be regularly updated with the new data and resources. Please check back for the latest information.


Ahead of the Treasurer’s symposium, the Department of Treasury opened an anonymous survey to learn more about the experiences of New Jerseyeans during the COVID-19 pandemic - how real residents have been affected, and what suggestions they may have related to workplace and governmental policies that could help ease the related challenges faced during the pandemic.

Important Facts & Figures
  • Rutgers University’s Center for Women and Work and New Jersey State Policy Lab issued “The Status of Women in New Jersey: An Intersectional Lens on Women, Work, and the COVID-19 Pandemic,” focusing on how the pandemic impacted Garden State women and informing the discussion of advancing gender and racial equity.
  • OREA Explains: Gender Inequities in the Labor Market (pre- and post-Covid-19 data analysis from Treasury’s Office of Revenue and Economic Analysis)
  • The White House National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality is designed to address the interconnected challenges for women built into our current systems, providing a path state and local policymakers can take to enshrine gender equity at all levels of government.
  • U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said not investing in the care economy would be “devastating” to millions of women who either work as caregivers or provide unpaid care, and would reduce the United States’ competitiveness globally.
  • In 2020, the global workforce lost an equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs, $3.7 trillion in wages and 4.4% of global GDP. While the growth outlook is expected to improve, an equitable socio-economic recovery is not guaranteed.
  • According to the National Women's Law Center, 2.3 million women left the workforce in the last year, putting the women's labor force participation rate at 57%—the lowest it's been since 1988. That's thirty years of progress for women, erased in a matter of months.
  • In a survey of 900 New Jersey parents last summer, more than one in 10 said they quit their job to manage child care – with six times more women indicating they did so than men.
  • Women are overrepresented in industries experiencing the highest job loss, such as hospitality, food service, and retail, according to a recent report published by the Y.W.C.A. U.S.A. Latina, Black and Asian-American women have been hit hardest.
  • About 1 in 16 women ages 20 and over (6.1%) were unemployed in November, but about 1 in 11 Black women (9%) and 1 in 12 Latinas (8.2%) remained unemployed that same month.
  • Young women ages 16 to 24 years old suffered the largest percentage decline in employment compared to young men and prime-age workers, mainly due to their concentration in service sectors and occupations that had been hit the hardest by the pandemic recession.
  • Not only did the U.S. workforce lose 140,000 jobs in December, but women lost a net 156,000 jobs, while men gained a net 16,000. In other words, women accounted for 100% of the labor market’s first month of losses since a tepid recovery began in May (2020).
    • If you compare the number of nonfarm payroll positions held by women at the start of 2020 to those held by women at the end of the year, American women lost more than 5 million jobs in the course of 12 months.
  • Weekly child care costs have risen significantly since 2014, according to data. Costs to employ a nanny have risen 20% (from $472 to $565), while after-school costs have jumped 34% (from $181 to $243).
    • New Jersey is particularly pricey for child care. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average annual cost of infant care in the state is $12,988. The average cost to provide center-based child care for an infant in the United States is $1,230 per month. In a family child care home, the average cost is $800 per month.
    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says child care is affordable if it costs no more than 7% of a family’s income. In New Jersey, infant care for one child would take up to 14.6% of a median family’s income, more than double what the government deems affordable. In no state does the cost of center-based infant or toddler child care meet the federal definition of affordable—no more than 7% of annual household income.
  • In New Jersey, more than 225,000 adults are not working because they’re caring for children not in school or daycare, according to the June Household Pulse Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. State officials have expressed support for focusing on childcare as a crucial part of helping women return to the workforce, including by allocating state and federal funds to provide relief to childcare centers.
  • Women are typically paid $0.82 for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, according to an analysis from the NWLC. For Black women, that number is $0.63 and for Latinas, it’s $0.55.
  • New Jersey is one of 11 states in which women’s career losses would amount to more than half a million dollars in their lifetimes due to the gender wage gap.
    • Women also tend to outlive men, needing to stretch resources over more years. In particular, they face higher health care expenses in retirement.
  • Policy experts have long acknowledged a gender gap in retirement security. Women tend to earn less than men, and they are more likely to take time off from work to care for children or elderly parents. Even brief career interruptions diminish wage growth, retirement savings and Social Security benefits, which are determined by wage history.
  • Mark your calendars for 2059; if current trends continue, the gender wage gap is expected to close in a mere 38 years. For Black and Hispanic women, the deadline is a whole century away.
    • The “motherhood penalty” also complicates the wage gap. Moms are less likely to be hired, they receive lower salaries when they are, and are less likely to be tapped on the shoulder for promotion.
  • In New Jersey, more than 225,000 adults are not working because they’re caring for children not in school or daycare, according to the June Household Pulse Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. State officials have expressed support for focusing on childcare as a crucial part of helping women return to the workforce, including by allocating state and federal funds to provide relief to childcare centers.
  • Facing a brain drain and labor shortages, some companies are responding not just by hiring more women with children. They’re going to unusual lengths to assist mothers’ re-entry into the workforce, address their desire for flexibility and offer them more child-care support.

Last Updated: Thursday, 02/15/24