MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s no secret the pandemic is tough on parents. But, Minnesota parents — specifically mothers — are taking an extra hard hit.

New research by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve shows fathers and mothers were both hit by pandemic job loss. Fathers mostly rebounded but mothers are not re-entering the job force at nearly the same rate.

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Like most families, Nichole Lelle of Farmington and hers have had some extra quality time together this past year.

Nichole Lelle (credit: CBS)

“We are so busy in our usual lives that the pandemic does give us that opportunity to really just bond as a family,” she said.

That’s been the bright side to a dim year. Lelle lost her job as the catering and events manager for a restaurant.

“I got laid off and since then I’ve been searching for something different or trying to find another job and it’s been really hard,” she said.

She is a busy mother. She started an online T-shirt company trying to make ends meet with sporadic help.

“Day care at this point is really hard to manage, and not for lack of them trying, but my daughter goes to a small day care and if one of them gets ill or their family does, we look at shutting down for 14 days,” she said.

It’s been clear for a while that parents were affected during the pandemic, but new data shows that parents like Lelle, mothers of young children, are the hardest hit.

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A new study from the Federal Reserve in Minneapolis shows the share of Minnesota mothers of young children in the labor force decreased almost three times as much as the nation.

Rob Grunewald is an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

“That’s a much higher rate than we saw at the national average so there are many more mothers who are not employed,” he said.

Men seemed to be able to get jobs faster as women have more often had to cover for day care gaps.

“Care responsibilities by the end of last year were not keeping fathers out of the labor force like they were for mothers,” Grunewald said.

He credits Minnesota’s dramatic rates to the fact more women were working in the first place and says the data shows who needs to be supported most to heal the economy.

“I hope that when this all over the workforce will open for us and we won’t have issues with those gaps in work,” Lelle said.

She says many moms like herself are a launching at home businesses like www.shopbyrd.com and www.peachyshops.com.

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The Federal Reserve says the unemployment trend is not the same for single parents.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield