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Business & Economy

Survey Says Roughly 16% Of Utah Women Left the Workforce During the Pandemic

Illustration of a multitasking businesswoman.
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“Even before the pandemic, women were struggling with balancing and juggling all of the work related duties, their paid work, as well as their unpaid work,” said Susan Madsen, director of Utah State University’s Utah Women and Leadership Project.

Roughly 16% of Utah women left the workforce during the pandemic, according to results from a survey released Tuesday. It was conducted through Utah State University’s Utah Women and Leadership Project.

The top two reasons they gave for leaving was caring for their kids and their employers losing business.

Schools have been forced to operate partially or fully online during the pandemic. That’s led some women to leave their jobs to spend more time taking care of their kids.

“[Some decided] to take a leave of absence because of what they were trying to deal with, especially early on in the pandemic when their children came home and were home full time,” said Susan Madsen, director of the project. “They were really struggling between ‘Do I do my job for pay or do I make sure my kids have a good education?’”

Madsen said that helps explain why women who work from home said their mental health has suffered during the pandemic more than women who worked outside the home.

“Even before the pandemic, women were struggling with balancing and juggling all of the work related duties, their paid work, as well as their unpaid work,” Madsen said. “What we know from the pandemic — and this study confirms — that all of those things that women struggled with, they now struggle with more.”

Women of color have been hit harder financially than white women, the survey also found.

“Many people were concerned financially,” Madsen said. “But definitely women of color had higher concerns or stronger worries about financial elements than white women.”

The state announced last week it would be launching an adult internship program aimed at bringing women back into the workforce. It also challenged private companies to do the same.

Madsen said the women who responded to the survey were disproportionately white and higher socioeconomic classes.

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