Working moms in Minnesota hit especially hard by COVID-19 unemployment

The latest data from the Minnesota Department of Economic (DEED) shows the unemployment rate is dropping in the state. Unemployment fell to 4.4 percent in December 2020 from 4.5 percent in November.  

But, some economists warn the figures do not paint a full picture of what could be a tough road ahead in rebuilding the economy since the coronavirus outbreak.  

new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis shows that mothers of young children are having a harder time returning to the workforce than fathers.  

"Among Minnesota mothers with children under the age 5, [the numbers] were 11 percentage points lower during late 2020 compared with the same period a year earlier. That’s a large decrease," said Rob Grunewald, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis who worked on the study. "Meanwhile, if you look at Minnesota women without children, labor participation rates actually increased during this time."   

According to the study, mothers are feeling the brunt of balancing work and children at home with school out and are taking on most of the caregiving responsibility. 

"Mothers of young children were more likely in November of 2020 to report that care responsibilities kept them out of the labor force," Grunewald told FOX 9. "While fathers reported that care responsibilities were not keeping fathers out of the workforce."   

Before the pandemic, labor force participation among Minnesota mothers was substantially higher when compared to other states across the country, according to Grunewald. Even with the decrease, Minnesota moms are participating in the workforce at a higher rate than their counterparts across the country.   

"For the economy to recover, we’re looking to be able to bring workers back in to fill job openings and help the economy to recover so, it’s important to see what sectors of the labor force may be having trouble," he stated.  

Grunewald said better access to childcare will help more mothers return to work.