RALEIGH – North Carolina is the 21st worst state for women, according to a new report.

The WalletHub report, published Monday, ranked each U.S. state and the District of Columbia, along 25 key indicators to determine how women are faring and where people who identify as women can find can pursue opportunity relative to their geographic location.

North Carolina appears ranked 31st in the list of “Best States for Women,” placing the Tar Heel State as the 21st worst state, as well.

The state doesn’t rank among the top five or bottom five of the nine key indicators documented in the report’s corresponding infographic.

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Women in the workforce

A McKinsey & Company report concluded that, as of mid-2021, a year-and-a-half into the global COVID-19 pandemic,  women in the workforce are “now significantly more burned out—and increasingly more so than men.”

The McKinsey analysis found that one in three women reported they had considered “downshifting” their careers and that 40% had considered leaving their company or switching job roles.

The effects of the pandemic on the workforce particularly affected women, WRAL TechWire previously reported.  For instance, as of October 2021, the number of women outside of the labor force was 3 million individuals higher than prior to the onset of the global pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed gaping holes in how our public policy has always neglected the needs of women, especially moms,” said Jennie Sweet-Cushman, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Political Science in the Department of Social Sciences at Chatham University in the WalletHub report.  “For companies to keep their women employees, they need to consider the services and flexibility that women need to both do their jobs and tend to their own and their family’s health and caregiving needs.”

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What employers can do

In August, the CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, Chris Chung, told WRAL that employers ought to consider rethinking how they might attract and keep their workers.

“They don’t necessarily have to raise wages,” Chung told WRAL anchor and reporter Ken Smith.  “They have to build in some of these family-friendly flexible workplaces and that may allow them to compete better,” said Chung.

Sweet-Cushman suggested other policies employers could adopt in responding to the WalletHub inquiry.

“There are federal tax credits for companies that run their own childcare centers, yet relatively few do,” noted Sweet-Cushman.  “Access to reliable affordable childcare and schools, quality and accessible health care, a living wage, paid leave and sick days, and safe affordable transportation for commuters would be a start.”

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Impact on the state’s economy

North Carolina’s economy may in large part be determined by the state’s labor market, and how employers approach attracting and retaining talent, a panel of economists discussed in January at a virtual event.  Inflation will also play a factor in the future of the economy, the economists noted.

The job market and labor market in the Triangle and across North Carolina is still experiencing a shortage of workers, particularly for technology roles.

And, in January, there were a record number of technology job openings, today’s IT Jobs Report report from NC TECH found.

The state government may also be able to play a role in the future of women’s role in the workforce, Sweet-Cushman noted in her responses to a questionnaire sent by and later published in the WalletHub report.

“The first priority should be affordable, accessible childcare,” said Sweet-Cushman.  “But also include everything from investment in women’s unique healthcare needs to strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.”

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