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Unemployment claims rose again last week – the third week in a row they were headed in the wrong direction. They haven’t risen much and are still near a pandemic low. But it’s another reminder that “near a pandemic low” is far from “back to normal.”

A new report from AARP highlights just how abnormal the job market is for women in mid-career and beyond right now.

The survey of women aged 40 to 65 found that more than 40% had experienced a work interruption during the pandemic; for those who were still unemployed in June, nearly 70% had been unemployed for six months or more.

“It’s pretty scary,” said Susan Weinstock, vice president of financial resilience at AARP. “There are so many implications at the end of the day for jobs, savings, retirement, financial stability. “

In most recessions, older workers have a harder time finding jobs and often end up with lower pay when they do, said Monique Morrissey of the Economic Policy Institute.

“It’s not a typical recession,” she said.

As a result of the pandemic, older workers may also have health issues when it comes to returning to work. In addition, women have been particularly affected by interruptions in education and care.

“People who care for young children, their spouses and parents,” Morrissey said.

Thirty percent of the women surveyed said they were looking after a child or grandchild. One in ten people cared for both a child and an adult. The numbers were even higher for black and Latin women.

“Many women of color relied on family care during the pandemic, even before,” said C. Nicole Mason, who heads the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Older women of color have lost their jobs disproportionately during the pandemic and may face discrimination in the labor market even if they can return, she said.

“I think a lot of people have the wrong perception that right now it’s easy to find a job,” said Ofer Sharone, sociologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

So if you can’t, unlike during the height of the pandemic or even the Great Recession, he’s more likely to carry a stigma, he said.

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