Adobe Stock / Stephen Coburn

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) analyzed current and historical data to address how male and female workers have been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and economic shutdown. The shutdown has led to huge spikes in unemployment, and while several industries have begun to recover in recent months, the NKBA set out to see if the recovery has been equal across genders.

Impact of the Pandemic Shutdown
Overall, women have been affected more than men over the last four months of economic shutdown. Between February and June, employment among males has contracted by 8.7%, almost two percentage points better than females, whose employment fell 10.5% during the same period. In general, female employment fell in all areas, with the exception of Construction. Female employment fell by 4% between February and June, two points lower than that of males.

One reason for the stronger performance in construction is that the vast majority of firms are small; 83% of the construction firms employ fewer than 10 people. Although there’s no specific data on the proportion of males and females by business size, anecdotally, many of these small businesses are bound to have an office manager who is likely a woman. If any of those businesses has to lay off an employee, it will not be the office manager, since that role is essential for running the business.

Within Specialty Trades, however, women have fared better. In February, females were 11.7% of total trades employment, only to rise by 0.4 of a point to 12.1% by May. Women have gained share in virtually all trades except “Tile & Terrazzo” and “Glass & Glazing” contractor businesses, where the share of females has fallen minimally.

Along with the higher drop in employment among females as a result of the shutdown, their unemployment rate has worsened relative to males.

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