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How more women of color in the workforce could help the US economy

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Posted at 2:27 PM, Oct 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-04 11:54:28-04

More than a million women left the workforce at the height of the pandemic— making their unemployment rate around 4.6 percent at its lowest. For Black women, that number was nearly double.

Lauren Casteel, president and CEO of the Women's Foundation of Colorado, wants to make sure Black women earn equal pay as they return to the workforce.

The U.S. Census reports, on average, Black women were paid 58% percent of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2020.

"The gaps also exist for Latina women and Indigenous women,” Casteel said. “What can we do? Colorado was the first, but New York, Washington state and California have passed an equal pay for equal work act."

Experts say continuing to bring back women, especially women of color, into the workforce could be a better solution than hiking interest rates to cool down the economy.

"What we're seeing is that the unemployment rate for Black women is on the rise. Labor force participation figures are dropping for Black women, and one of the biggest reasons is because childcare is unaffordable and inaccessible,” said Louise Myrland, vice president of programs with the Women’s Foundation of Colorado.

Nonprofit organizations, like the Women’s Foundation for Colorado, will continue to work with lawmakers to push for equal pay and better access to childcare.

Those changes would be beneficial for the individual, and many believe for the entire U.S.

"If anyone is suffering then all of us ultimately suffer,” Casteel said.