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Who is back at work?

Employment rates have bounced back, for some more than others

The percentage of people in America who are now employed is now about the same as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2019, 60.6% of people in the US had a job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By May 2023, 60.3% did.

The share of people working fell more than 9 percentage points during the early months of the pandemic. It recently returned to its previous rate.

But the labor market changed during the pandemic. Some groups in the population have surpassed pre-pandemic levels of employment, while others are still working less than they did before.

Women are back at work

Black women had one of the largest increases in employment. In May 2023, about 58% were employed, 1 percentage point higher than in May 2019.

Women, especially black women’s rates have increased

Moms are back at work

Moms faced a steeper drop initially in the pandemic than nonparents, but their recovery has been faster. Compared to May 2019, moms have had the largest increase in employment, with 2.5 percentage points more working in May 2023. That’s higher than the increase for dads and nonparents. (Here, moms and dads include people with children under 18 living at home.)

Employment dropped more for moms during the pandemic, but has also recovered the fastest

People who reported having a disability are now employed above pre-pandemic levels

COVID-19 shifted policies and attitudes towards remote work, leading to more opportunities for workers with a disability. While the overall rate for employment of persons with a disability is lower than for persons without a disability, the share of those with a disability who are employed has recovered much faster. The share of disabled people working is currently 22.4%, which is 3 percentage points higher than four years ago.

More people with disabilities are working

Who is not back at work?

People older than 70 and people with master’s degrees and doctorates were less likely to work in May 2023 than they were in May 2019.

Employment levels for most groups have returned to pre-pandemic levels

May 2019 Pre-pandemic employment share Apr 2020 Percentage point change since Jan 2020 May 2023 Percentage point change since Jan 2020 Overall Employment Share Swing61%-9.4 pt-0.3 pt

*AI/AN - ​​American Indian / Alaska Native

Find the employment situation for people like you

See how much or little employment for specific subsets of the population has changed since the pandemic based on combinations such as sex, race, age and education. The answers can change depending on combinations of characteristics. For example, the employment rate for men over 55 with college degrees is 3.5 percentage points lower than what it was in May 2019. For men over 55 with no degree, it has dropped a smaller amount of 2.3 percentage points.

Explore other combinations of characteristics

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Sources & Footnotes