A new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) analyzed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on turnover rates among health care workers. Turnover rates were 43% higher among women with children under five than the rest of the health care workforce. In fact, women working in health care with children younger than 5 years old had the highest probability of leaving their jobs.
Separate analysis has also found that nationwide, women who left the workforce early on in the pandemic at greater rates than men, and they have been much slower to return. That’s consistent with past research, which finds that U.S. mothers have consistently been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic’s economic effects. The gender quit gap is widest in the states with the most child care disruptions, according to a February report from the payroll company Gusto.
“For more than two years, health care workers have been dealing with the physical, mental and emotional effects of their experiences on the front lines of the pandemic,” said FFYF spokesperson Charlie Joughin. “Finding and affording quality child care should not be an additional burden they are forced to navigate on top of the unrelenting challenges they face at work. For the sake of our economy and working families everywhere, we are hopeful lawmakers will act quickly to address this crisis.”
Key findings from the study published in the journal JAMA Health Forum by researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Minnesota:
- Women working in health care with children younger than 5 years old had the highest estimated turnover rate.
- Health care workers with young children, particularly women, had persistently high turnover rates and were experiencing a slow recovery.
- Among both men and women, health care workers with young children were more likely to leave the workforce. Health care workers of both sexes with young children were more likely to turn over, and experienced slower recovery than the group without young children in the household.
- Having young children makes health care workers more likely to leave their jobs, but this problem is specific to parents of young children: the study found that having older children had no significant effect on turnover rates.
- The struggles facing the health care workforce are at an all time high, including burnout and a lack of available child care, which may be contributing to shortages and putting patient care at risk.
- Too often, workers have no paid sick leave and/or adequate child care, leaving them to choose between staying employed or caring for their personal health and the health of their families.
- 77% of front-line health and long-term care workers are women, many of whom pertain to historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups.
That gender quit gap is widest in the states with the most child care disruptions, according to a February report from the payroll company Gusto. According to Gusto analysis:
- In January 2022, 4.1% of women quit their jobs, compared to 3.4% of men.
- States with among the highest rates of child care disruptions, such as Maine and Rhode Island, saw women leaving the workforce at a 1.7% higher rate than men.
- States with some of the lowest rates of child care disruptions saw no gap in quits rates between men and women in January.