More than 2 million women had dropped out of the labor force as of October. The percent of American women working is the lowest since 1988.

In late October, Courtney Allen got the call she had been waiting for: A school district asked if she could come back as a substitute teacher. Allen desperately needed the money as she was getting only $125 a week in unemployment benefits. But she had to turn down the job.

Her kindergartner and first-grade sons are still at home all day, learning virtually. Allen is part of a wave of women having to make difficult decisions that will affect family finances, as well as the broader U.S. economy, for years to come. Read More