(Bloomberg) -- The overall US gender employment gap shrank to below pre-Covid levels this year, with the trend even more pronounced in the New York region, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The narrowing of the gap — which measures the difference between the employment rate for men and women — is explained in part by more women taking advantage of jobs that allow them to work remotely, according to the regional bank, whose district includes New York, Northern New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut.

At the national level, the employment gap fell to just under 11% in October, compared with about 13% in early 2019, based on the NY Fed’s equitable growth indicators. The earnings gap also shrank in recent years, although women still earned about 18% less than men as of October.

Remote work, allowing for more flexibility in balancing a career and family, played a key role in recent trends, according to NY Fed economists.

“Women, especially more educated women, disproportionately took advantage of working from home, relative to before, which led to their increased labor force participation, employment rate, and earnings relative to those of men,” the economists wrote in blog post Friday.

Women in the NY Fed’s district are more likely to be educated and hold white-collar jobs that allow them to work from home. That could explain why the gaps narrowed more sharply in the region. 

With many employers, particularly on Wall Street, making demands that staff return to office, the recent progress in narrowing gender gaps is at risk of being reversed. Another factor that may weigh on women’s labor force participation in coming months and years is the lapse of pandemic-era government aid for daycare providers that could cause millions of children to lose their spots in programs.

Read More: Threat of 70,000 Daycare Closures Imperils US Workforce Gains

--With assistance from Alex Tanzi.

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