A new study finds the pandemic has forced a significantly higher number of women than men out of the labor market.

According to Andy Challenger, the vice president of global outplacement at the executive and business coaching firm Challenger Gray & Christmas, the number of Garden State women who have left their jobs since the start of the health emergency is 20% higher than their male counterparts.

“In New Jersey, the unemployment rate for women is 10.8% compared to 8.6% for men, and that’s a really dramatic difference that’s going to have ramifications for years to come," he said.

He noted the reason why women have been leaving the workforce in much greater numbers is because of concern about their kids.

“COVID-19 has really created a crisis for families trying to figure out ways to take care of their children while schools and daycare centers have been closed,” he said. “A survey in September in New Jersey found that 1 in 10 families were making the choice to have one of the parents stay at home during this period.”

The survey, done by the Newark-based Nicholson Foundation in conjunction with Fairleigh Dickinson University, found women with young children were 6 times more likely to quit work and watch the kids than men.

Challenger said this uneven representation will have a significant negative impact on the business landscape because having women in leadership positions in companies “is good business, it makes companies more agile, it makes them able to deal with a larger number of issues.”

He said proactive steps will be needed to fix the problem.

“I think you’re going to see smart companies move around elements of their compensation packages, particularly around benefits to include more childcare services," he said. “What companies need to do for the immediate term is start to just be really flexible around hours.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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