Editor’s Note: It’s been one year since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic and businesses started closing. CNN Business looks back on the pandemic’s impact on the global workforce and how things may have forever changed.

New York CNN Business  — 

A year ago, the Covid-19 pandemic prompted a swift, sweeping lockdown on the United States. It left more than half a million Americans dead and created the sharpest economic contraction on record.

Between March and April last year, more than 22 million jobs vanished in the United States. The majority came from the leisure and hospitality industry — restaurant and bar workers, hotel staff, event planners, virtually all positions that rely on face-to-face interactions. For millions of other Americans whose jobs were deemed “essential,” going to work became a life-and-death risk.

In both cases, the burden has been disproportionately borne by women and people of color.

The economy is improving, but the healing isn’t being felt equally. Economists refer to it as a “K-shaped” recovery, in which wealthier Americans — especially the uber-rich whose fortunes are tied to the stock market — are thriving, while poorer Americans continue to rely on government aid just to survive.

The following five charts illustrate the pandemic’s devastation of the US labor market over the past year.

At the height of the pandemic, more than 22 million jobs vanished. Since then, the economy added back positions almost every month. The notable exception was last December, when a resurgence in infections and virus-curbing restrictions weighed on the labor market.

And yet, months of record job growth still leaves the United States in a deep hole compared to pre-pandemic times: As of February, the nation was still short 9.5 million jobs versus the year before.

Before the pandemic, the US job market was at its strongest in decades and the falling level of unemployment among minority groups was considered a reason to celebrate. But now, similar levels of joblessness are considered too high for the total population.

Case in point, the jobless rate for Black and Hispanic workers was at 6% and 4.4%, respectively, in February 2020. Last month, the total jobless rate was 6.2%, hailed as too high and in need of urgent improvement. But things were even worse for minority groups: The Black jobless rate was a whopping 9.9% and 8.5% Hispanic workers were unemployed.

The crisis hit lower-income workers the hardest. As restaurants and bars closed and traveling came to a screeching halt, many of the lower-paid jobs in those industries disappeared.

The shock of a lost job is harder to absorb for lower-income households, which typically have less savings to fall back on.

Besides racial inequalities, the pandemic also exacerbated gender inequality. More than half of the jobs lost during the pandemic had been held by women. Their disproportionate representation in hard-hit sectors, including education and government, meant that more women than men lost their livelihoods over the past year.

On top of that, child care responsibilities mounted at home due to virtual schooling, forcing many women to make the difficult decision to drop out of the labor force altogether.

Over the past 12 months, the female labor force participation rate fell from 57.8% to 55.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The leisure and hospitality sector has been by far the worst affected by the pandemic. Economists expect that bars and restaurants will reopen and that travel-related industries will bounce back, but it won’t happen overnight.

Many workers losing their livelihoods have been women and people of color, making existing inequities worse and setting the nation back in its fight for equality.