Select Subcommittee to Examine Economic Impact of Pandemic on Working Women
Washington, D.C. (December 13, 2021) — Today, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn, sent letters to the 12 private companies among the nation’s 50 largest that each reportedly laid off over 1,000 workers during the pandemic-induced economic downturn. The letters request that these companies—which collectively laid off over 100,000 workers—complete a survey and provide other data necessary to assess the impact of the pandemic on women in the American workforce and to help identify workplace policies that will promote a sustainable recovery and equitable future.
Chairman Clyburn wrote to the companies:
“Women’s labor force participation took a significant hit at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, with 11.5 million women losing their jobs between February and May 2020 as compared to 9 million men. Despite a robust and ongoing economic recovery and increased job openings, many American women remain out of the workforce today. … I therefore write today to request information regarding your company’s workforce and employment actions so that the Select Subcommittee can better understand how the pandemic has impacted gender equity in the workplace, and assess how to ensure a more equitable American workforce in the future.”
Despite the ongoing economic recovery and unemployment at its lowest rate in 50 years, the female labor force has declined by 1.5 million workers since the pandemic began, compared to a male labor force decline of 900,000. Experts have expressed concern that the pandemic will worsen long-term wage gaps and promotion gaps. The impact on women appears to be partially attributable to their disproportionate share of child and elder care responsibilities.
“The pandemic’s devastating and disproportionate impact risks long-term damage to women’s earning potential and prospects for promotion,” Chairman Clyburn continued. “It is essential that both policymakers and American employers understand how various approaches toward workforce reduction, the implementation of flexible workplace policies, or access to benefits may exacerbate or remediate the pandemic’s impact on women, parents, and other vulnerable workers.”
Detailed information from these large private employers that laid off the most workers will be valuable in analyzing the pandemic’s negative impacts on the female workforce; examining the impact of the availability of flexible workplace policies or benefits on the female workforce during the pandemic; and assessing the pandemic’s potential effects on future employment and compensation for women and other vulnerable workers.
Despite an array of research related to female employment, there remains an immediate need for more information from private sector companies. The Select Subcommittee’s new survey seeks to fill this gap by requesting detailed employment information, including (1) demographic data regarding employees affected by pandemic layoffs, furloughs, terminations, or hour or pay reductions; (2) the criteria used for such decisions; (3) data on voluntary departures; (4) the number of employees who were rehired; and (5) the number of employees in the above categories who had or have access to benefits like parental leave, sick leave, and remote work options.
Companies included in the survey are:
- The Walt Disney Company (32,000 laid off)
- Boeing (26,000 laid off)
- Exxon Mobil (14,000 laid off)
- Berkshire Hathaway (13,000 laid off)
- Chevron (4,500 laid off)
- Cisco (3,500 laid off)
- Comcast (3,500 laid off)
- AT&T (3,400 laid off)
- Citigroup (2,000 laid off)
- Oracle (1,300 laid off)
- Walmart (1,240 laid off); and
- Salesforce (1,000 laid off)
Companies are asked to respond to the survey and provide requested information by January 7, 2022.
Read today’s letters to these 12 major U.S. companies.
See the Select Subcommittee’s new gender equity survey.