Throughout the pandemic, women in the United States have borne the brunt of job losses, economic insecurity, and caregiving responsibilities. Young women ages 18 to 24—who may be working, in school, caregiving, or some combination of all three—are no exception. While pandemic recovery continues, many young women have dealt with and continue to suffer through economic, caregiving, education, and mental health crises that disrupt their lives, health, and prosperity.
In the early days of the pandemic, young women lost more jobs than young men. And today, young women, especially young Black women, face higher rates of unemployment. For example, though the unemployment rate for women ages 20-24 has fallen from its April 2020 pandemic high of 27.3% down to 6.3% in July 2022, it’s still higher than their pre-pandemic February 2020 rate (6.1%) and more than double the July 2022 rate for all women ages 20 and older (3.1%). Young Black women and Latinas also face high rates of food insufficiency and housing insecurity. Additionally, disruptions to in-person learning and childcare caused by the pandemic have created a unique fallout for young women who are caretakers and work or go to school or do both.
The consequences of these layered crises are stark: young women, specifically women of color and those with disabilities, have high rates of anxiety and depression symptoms coupled with limited access to services to help address them. The pandemic has also forced these young women to adjust their work and postsecondary education plans, impacting their future prosperity. These consequences compound an existing gender wage gap, racial wealth gap, and disproportionate responsibility for caregiving.