At the same time, the number of women who have dropped out of some form of education or are considering doing so is increasing. During the pandemic, more women than men have consistently said they have canceled their plans to take post-secondary courses or planned to take fewer courses, according to a series of surveys conducted by the US Census Bureau since last April.
A recent report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, which has smaller samples but produces faster snapshots of the data, found that the rates of disconnected youth have risen sharply by 2019 to 2020 among Black, Latin and Native American Women.
While rates during this period also increased for young men, it should be noted that before the pandemic, the rate of disconnection among young women was declining faster than among men. In 2015, it was 16% for young women against 14.8% for men. By 2019, women had closed this gap somewhat – 13.5% of women were offline compared to 12.9% of men. Then in 2020, the rate for both men and women climbed to 17%.
The number of disconnected youth overall has been steadily declining to 4.3 million people in 2018, from a peak of 6 million in 2008, according to Measure of America, a project of the Social Science Research Council, an organization in nonprofit that published its latest report on disconnection last summer.
Measure of America researchers predicted that the pandemic could reverse much of that progress and even push the number of disconnected young people to an all-time high of nine million people – a quarter of America’s youth.
“We rely on carefully collected data that takes researchers 18 months or more to collate, verify and format,” the report says. But “we are painfully aware that as of this writing, the Covid-19 pandemic is eating away at these gains. The pandemic will drastically alter the rates of disconnection among young people, possibly wiping out a decade’s progress.
Although it is still early to get definitive data, experts suggest that the same care crisis that forced adult women out of the workforce may have spread to younger women, with many looking after their own. siblings or their relatives, for example, so that their parents can work.