On the other hand, demand for the services provided by the leisure and hospitality industry has plummeted since the profusion of public directives to stay home and avoid travel, making jobs in this sector highly vulnerable. As highlighted in the infographic, a gender wage gap exists in two of the occupations in this industry: wait staff and hotel and resort clerks.

Leisure and hospitality accounts for nearly 12% of women’s employment. Accommodation and food service businesses, a subset of this industry, employ 13.0% of Latina workers, 8.8% of AAPI women workers, 8.6% of black women workers, and 7.0% of white women workers. While most men and women employed as restaurant wait staff and hotel workers earn modest hourly wages, the existence of a gender wage gap—and thus the elevated financial insecurity these women workers face—means that women in this industry are especially financially vulnerable in the event that they are out of work or on a severely reduced work schedule for an extended period of time.

It’s not so easy to explain away the existence (and persistence) of the overall gender pay gap in the United States. It remains after controlling for relevant factors, across different industries, and at all levels of education. In fact, women with advanced degrees are paid less, on average, than men with bachelor’s degrees ($38.64 per hour vs. $39.96 per hour).

The economic impact of COVID-19 has revealed a number of underlying weaknesses in the U.S. economy. While the $2 trillion stimulus bill signed just into law (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security?or CARES Act) is an important step in the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, it falls short of fully protecting workers during the coronavirus crisis. Further, long-standing gender and racial inequities in pay, access to paid leave, and even opportunities for telework must be considered as the country continues to develop plans for the response to and recovery from this crisis.

The wage gaps, wages by occupation, and share of women by race and ethnicity in different industries are based on EPI analyses of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata.