Contact: Lea Woods | 202-785-5100 |

Since March, Women lost nearly 6 out of every 10 jobs across all sectors, with the service sector most impacted. Job loss among women were highest in retail and leisure and hospitality at 396,000.

Washington, DC — Employment data released on April 3, 2020 show dramatic job losses and sharp rises in unemployment for both men and women since February. Women’s losses outnumbered men’s in almost all sectors of the economy. The biggest losses were experienced in Leisure and Hospitality where women’s payroll employment fell by 261,000 compared with a drop in employment for men of 181,000.

Women also disproportionately loss jobs in the retail sectors, professional and business services, and Non-Durable Manufacturing. Men lost more jobs in just three sectors—Wholesale Trade, Mining and Logging.

The loss of jobs in sectors dominated by women will have a devastating impact of families, especially those headed by single mothers or where women are the primary or co-breadwinner. One in two of more than 30 million families in the U.S. with children under the age of 18 have a breadwinner mother, who contributes at least 40 percent of her earnings to the household.

Top 5 sectors with biggest job losses for women

  1. Leisure and Hospitality (261,000)
  2. Retail Trade (35,000)
  3. Professional and Business Services (29,000)
  4. Other Services (13,000)
  5. Non-Durable Goods and Services (8,000)

“During the 2008 recession, production sectors—manufacturing and construction—and men were the first to be hit. This time around because women are over-represented in the service sector, they will experience disproportionately higher unemployment and job loss compared to men,” said C. Nicole Mason, PhD, President and CEO of IWPR. “Service sectors jobs tend to pay lower wages and have fewer benefits like healthcare, which makes women more economically vulnerable.”

About the Institute for Women’s Policy Research

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences.

About the author

Author profile

Lea joined IWPR as a Development Associate to manage individual giving and support the grant process. She previously worked in communications and development at LeaderSpring Center in Oakland, CA and the Center for Women’s Leadership in Portland, OR. She has also gained political experience as an intern in a congressional office and on a gubernatorial reelection campaign.

Lea studied Philosophy at Portland State University and the University College London. After graduating, she volunteered as a Witness for Peace Delegate in Cuba before moving to China to teach English. Her professional interests include conflict resolution and public policy.