Single men have for quite some time been more likely to own homes than their female counterparts. But until last year, that gap had been closing pretty quickly.

In 2016, the gap was 10.1 percentage points. 19.4% of young single women owned a home, compared with 29.6% of their male counterparts. This is according to a new Zillow study. By 2021, that gap dropped to just 1.8 percentage points, with 28.6% of single women owning homes, and 30.4% of single men owning home.

But single women’s homeownership took a big hit in 2022. It fell 4.1 percentage points from its high in 2021, dropping back down to 24.5% and wiping out most of the gains made over the past six years.

Single men, on the other hand, gained 2.7 percentage points in 2022, reaching 33.1%, and pushing the gap back up to 8.6 percentage points.

What’s behind the change?

One issue is the difference in labor force participation (LFP). The first year of the pandemic had a greater impact on women’s participation in the workforce. Women are more likely to handle caregiving responsibilities, explains Zillow Chief Economist Skylar Olsen. As the pandemic limited childcare and eldercare options, women’s participation in the labor force felt the fallout.

In fact, women’s LFP rate dropped an average of more than 2 percentage points from 2020 to early 2021. During that same time, men’s labor force participation fell 1.3 percentage points.

Women’s LFP had been growing prior to the pandemic. By late 2019, it had reached record-high numbers. By the end of 2021, the extra impact of the pandemic on women’s LFP had disappeared. Women’s LFP rate was back to its pre-pandemic level of 72.4%. Meanwhile, men’s LFP rate remains below pre-pandemic levels.

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