A typical morning in the Schnitzler family begins with David and Alison Feed them 17-month-old Winston. Alison, 33, and David, 32, play with Winston as they both get ready to go to work.
Alison walks out the door – to her family’s medical practice – and David, an insurance clerk, starts the day… a stay-at-home dad.
“Taking care of Winston, taking care of his house, playing with him, all of that comes first,” he told CNN.
Last year, David quit his high-paying job at the Schnitzlers to take care of Winston, and Alison decided to continue her career. Winston, who at the time was unvaccinated by Covid, helped guide two parents who worked long hours and daycare. They both feel lucky to be able to live on Alison’s salary.
“I was at a critical point in my career, which made the decision all that difficult at the time. Am I throwing all that away to take care of a baby? Do I even enjoy taking care of a baby?” David said.
He does – and now there is work in their roles. And this reflects new trends in the workforce for both men and women.
More men ages 30-44 have been leaving the workforce in recent months, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The labor force participation rate for older men is lower now than it was before the pandemic. For example, in David’s age range of 30-34, Labor Department data shows that 90.2% of men were employed or looking for work in February 2020, just before the outbreak. Last month this number was 89.8 percent.
Although more men are leaving the workforce to care for children after the pandemic, it’s still only in the single digits, according to economist Richard V. Reeves.
Richard V., a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “So, what’s going on with these people is a bit of a mystery to economists. Some of the main theories are that in most disability problems, mental health problems are receding.
People around David Schnitzler still struggle to understand that he is the primary guardian of his son.
“Male, female, whatever, everybody got their place. [Allison] She has great talent and passion for her work, and that’s fantastic. In my way I can support her being, I want to say a better doctor,” Schnitzler said.
22 million people lost their jobs during the pandemic. The data shows that the overall numbers are skewed more towards women than men, as many women have been taking on the role of caregivers at home when daycare centers and schools were closed during the lockdown. Since then, men and women have regained all the lost jobs.
And of the 263,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy last month, 61.6 percent were held by women, according to the National Women’s Law Center. More women between the ages of 30-44 are joining the workforce in recent months – and at a higher percentage than before the pandemic.
Reeves’ “her-session” fears, which say women will be most negatively affected by pandemic-related job losses, have been largely unfounded. “Women are returning to the labor market, and we’ve seen a huge increase in the proportion of women in management roles and senior leadership roles.”
Women are also entering male-dominated industries such as construction. Ava Sedagat joined the construction industry two years ago as a project engineer in New York City.
“I think it was definitely scary because my knowledge of the construction industry was very heavy and male-dominated. But the more I started working in the industry and the more people I met, the faster I realized there’s room for everyone in construction,” Sedagat said.
Women make up just 14.1 percent of the construction industry, the highest on record, according to Labor Department data.
Sedagat is currently renovating the Port Richmond Library on Staten Island. While she says she works with women at the Gilban Building Company, she is the only woman on the project in the field.
The pandemic has changed the way Americans want to work and what they want to do for work.
Working from home or virtual jobs are now more prevalent than ever and have no negative stigma. And gender roles in the workplace are slowly changing – more men are now needed in female-dominated industries such as nursing and teaching.
“We have some problems [those] areas,” says Reeves. “So we need more people working in those areas. And there aren’t enough women to address the labor market challenges in every sector,” says Reeve.
Early next year, the Schnitzlers will welcome a new baby, another boy. The couple plan to continue their current family role – but David isn’t considering himself out of the job market.
“I wouldn’t say I’m out of the workforce, 100%, you know, retired,” he said. But for now, we want to give our second child the same thing we gave our first, and it’s a parent who can give them 100%.