Unpaid labor, including housework, child care, and myriad of other household maintenance tasks, has long been largely left of conversations about work, employment, and the state of the economy—in large part because it’s often invisible. Of course the pandemic changed that. Suddenly all the unpaid work taking place in people’s homes was front and center.
Unfortunately that didn’t spell change for most families. Pre-pandemic, women did on average four hours a day of unpaid labor at home while men did about half that—two and a half hours a day. The time spent on cooking, cleaning, and taking care of kids did increase for both men and women during the pandemic when our homes became our offices and schools. But the balance of labor didn’t shift. Women are still doing on average nearly twice as much unpaid labor as men.
This burden is causing many women—roughly 3.5 million in 2020—to either cut back hours or leave their paying jobs, setting women’s workplace progress back by a generation.
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