Skip to main content

A woman walks through Toronto's financial district on July 30, 2018.Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press

A new study from the Royal Bank of Canada shows COVID-19 pushed women’s participation in the labour force down to its lowest level in three decades.

The bank’s report says 1.5 million women lost their jobs in the first two months of the pandemic.

The report found that women tend to work in industries hardest hit by the crisis, their employment level has been slower to rebound as the economy reopens and they are more likely to fall out of the work force in the long-term.

Eight charts that explain Canada’s job devastation

The study says one-third of women who lost jobs between February and June did not seek work, putting them at higher risk of long-term job-separation and future wage penalties.

Employment among women with toddlers or school-aged children fell 7 per cent between February and May, compared with a 4-per cent decrease for fathers of children the same age.

Single mothers with a toddler or school-aged child saw their employment drop 12 per cent between February and June, compared with a 7-per-cent decrease for single fathers.

The study says women accounted for about 45 per cent of the decline in hours worked over the downturn, but will only make up 35 per cent of the recovery.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.