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Nearly 3 million women have left labor force since COVID-19 began: Indeed study

Indeed's Director of U.S. Marketing, Carmen Bryant, joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down a recent Indeed study that shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt working women.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: We got that better than expected jobs report number out this morning, but there's still a number of pretty troubling trends when you take a look at what's happening inside the labor market. One of those are, of course, the number of women that are dropping out of the workforce.

We want to talk a little bit more about this and those trends that we are seeing with Carmen Bryant, Indeed's director of US marketing. Carmen, great to have you on the show. I know Indeed is out with a new report regarding this. What did you find and the big reason why women are leaving the workforce at such a staggering rate?

CARMEN BRYANT: Yes, I mean, this is a really significant sort of impact of the pandemic on women. We surveyed 609 working women, and we really wanted to understand how the pandemic changed their path and what their stories really reveal to us about the changing world of work. And there's some really, you know, unprecedented numbers that we're seeing.

But the thing that was really interesting was when you started to ask why and when you started to ask how they could have been better supported, the answer seemed so simple. It was about greater empathy, greater flexibility and understanding, having people ask how they can support them, and then actually doing so. But the impact of not having that is that we saw that 9% of women left the labor force completely. And another 29% reduced their hours.

ADAM SHAPIRO: I'm curious, though, how we get people-- get these women back into the workforce with empathy and with assistance. Because once schools are fully reopened, you still have the case of there will be women working from home if they have the kinds of jobs. I mean, people at grocery stores don't have the option to work from home. But if you've got young kids, there's no-- this doesn't stop. So how do we assist those women who might be working from home, who don't have school age children yet?

CARMEN BRYANT: Yeah, you know, it's really interesting. I think one of the things that was really compelling about this research was that we found that there was a stark contrast between the women who are able to continue to work for whatever reason they were able to, versus the women who weren't.

But what we heard from them was that they were absolutely planning to return to the workforce, and they were going to leverage the lessons that they had learned from this experience. They found that their social connections were weaker. They felt 79% that their mental health suffered as a result of not being able to work. So there is definitely a strong desire to come back. And I think organizations have to just be more flexible, whether that is a pandemic leave of absence. Perhaps that is return shifts. We're hearing that from organizations.

And often, when people look at resumes and they see this gap of time, where someone didn't work, that's a strike against them. We're definitely going to have to rethink that moving forward.

SEANA SMITH: And it's so important to point out, yes, women have been disproportionately impacted. I am a mother. I understand totally what you're saying, but also in this day and age, I think fathers, a lot of fathers also pick up some of the slack in something that we didn't necessarily see 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Are we hearing some of those types or similar types of concerns that we are from women from some of the men out there who also have younger children?

CARMEN BRYANT: You know, we have heard absolutely the need for both men and women trying to find balance. I think historically, women have kind of bore that mental load, that emotional tax. And what we found with working women during the pandemic is, it really magnified that. So, women who are trying to balance that before now feel like they're at the breaking point.

We did hear, actually, from men-- and this is more anecdotal-- that, in some ways, not having to travel, not having to be at the office, actually gave them a little bit more flexibility. So I think there is an interesting story there with men as well. We haven't seen the sheer numbers affecting them in the same way that we've seen it affect women.

SEANA SMITH: Carmen Bryant, great to have you on the show.