U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Monday that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has widened inequities in the U.S. economy, APA reports citing CNBC.
"The pandemic widened deep-rooted inequities in our economy. Along racial, gender, and socioeconomic lines, those least able to bear it, unfortunately, were those who were most affected," Powell said in a speech for a conference on gender and the economy hosted by the central bank.
"Women make up the majority of frontline workers, who have been under substantial strain - and subject to personal risks - during the pandemic. Additionally, women took on the majority of caring responsibilities, for older relatives and children alike," Powell said.
"As schools closed and childcare services shuttered during the worst of the pandemic, that added responsibility and stress made working more difficult for some and took many away from their jobs. These burdens are real and have been an additional challenge during an already challenging time," he said.
Powell noted that women suffered more from job losses in the COVID-19 recession than men, in a reversal of previous recessions.
Meanwhile, a Fed survey conducted last year showed that the pandemic disrupted childcare or in-person schooling for nearly 70 percent of parents, with 25 percent of mothers reporting they did not work or worked less as a result.
"As households and the economy continue to recover, the lessons learned during this era will help inform how policymakers and communities work to bridge those gaps," Powell said, warning long-standing disparities weigh on the productive capacity of the U.S. economy.
"These are vital issues not just to the economy, but to families across the country. There is more to be done," he said.