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Why aren't women returning to work in a job-seekers market?

Almost two million women have left the labor force since the start of the pandemic. #newdaynw

By now you may have heard the term "she-cession." The pandemic forced many women to drop out of the workplace to take care of kids and family members.

We talked with business expert and reporter Shibani Joshi about how women can use this moment to rewrite the rules to both thrive at home and professionally.

The stats are scary in terms of what’s happened to women during the pandemic, Joshi said.

“One-point-eight million women have left the labor force since the start of the pandemic,” she said.

Labor participation rates are at a 30-year low, Joshi said. Experts out there are scratching their heads because this is a job-seekers market, so why aren’t people returning to work and, in particular, why aren’t women?

The number one reason experts are pointing to is childcare and burnout, she said. Essentially, that means responsibility for very traditional tasks like taking care of the home and childcare.

“Women are just finding it increasingly impossible to be able to do it all right now,” Joshi said.

She argues that this is a remarkable and empowering time for women because they have the captive audience and the ears of corporate America. 

Every manager, every leader, every corporate executive out there is trying to find ways not just get employees, but retain and attract women, she said. They are thinking creatively about different flexible options.

“I think this is a great time for women to be reconsidering returning to the workforce,” Joshi said.

It can be scary to return to the workforce, but this is an employee’s market, she advises. Right now, big companies are having a hard time filling seats and women have many great options.

“You’re not coming into a tight labor market where it’s impossible to find a job, Joshi said. "This is a good time for you to enter into the marketplace, so come in with confidence.”

She also advised taking your time to find a job that meets your needs. Employers are much more receptive to flexible work options whether it’s a hybrid model or other creative options.

“We need to be able to vocalize what we need and then take a position that fills it,” Joshi said. "Don’t go in there taking jobs that you don’t feel are a good fit off the bat."

RELATED: 'The Great Resignation': Why millions of workers are quitting their jobs

Before going back to work, women might also need to have a heartfelt conversation with their partner or spouse to create more clarity in terms of the emotional burden and load that they tend to carry, she said.

“If we’re going to share financial responsibility, we also need to start sharing the responsibility at home,” Joshi said.

She also shared something she learned during the pandemic: let go of perfection. Lowering the bar and standards will make it an easier adjustment.

"We were doing what we needed to get by and everybody got by ok, everyone survived," Joshi said. "In fact, we all learned how to take care of ourselves."

Segment Producer Rebecca Perry. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day.

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