CHICAGO - A new survey of working mothers in Illinois found that nearly half of them have felt the financial crunch of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study, which surveyed over 1,000 working mothers, was conducted by the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute.
Citing the shutdown of schools and child care during the pandemic, the study found 40% of Illinois mothers who were working in March 2020 lost their jobs or were working fewer hours.
Most impacted were working mothers of color with almost half losing their jobs and more than half reporting loss of income.
"While working women—and especially working mothers—already faced labor force participation and pay gaps relative to men before COVID-19, survey data makes clear that the pandemic has almost certainly worsened those disparities," study co-author Alison Dickson said in a statement. "COVID-19 has exposed the urgent need for affordable child care, paid family leave, flexible work arrangements, and other policy interventions to combat the gender-based structural inequities in our economy."
More than half of all respondents said their job performance suffered since the onset of the virus.
"I've had to greatly reduce my hours because of [the] lack of child care," one mother who was surveyed said.
The pandemic also exacerbated the disparities in the wage gap and labor force participation gap between men and women.
The study includes policy suggestions to better assist working mothers such as safely reopening schools, enhancing extracurriculur programs and offering paid family and medical leave.