Read more below about the COVID-19 recession impacting women – aka the "shecession" – Skimm'd in a special edition of the Skimm Money newsletter.
Shecession: the economic downturn that's disproportionately affecting women. Not only are women more likely to work in hard-hit industries like hospitality and leisure, but many have been forced to leave their jobs due to lack of childcare. The stress and exhaustion have left some moms literally screaming.
These unprecedented challenges pose a serious threat to women's finances. No one person can be expected to DIY a long-term solution. Though some groups are working on it (think: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UN Women, and the backers of the Marshall Plan for Moms). And we're here with ideas to help you put yourself in the best possible position.
Women have lost 5.3M jobs during the pandemic. And more than 2.3M have left the workforce since February 2020 (meaning they're not looking for work or being counted among the unemployed) compared to 1.8M men. That brings women’s labor force participation to a 33-year low.
Caregivers are in crisis. Nearly a million women who've left the workforce are mothers. Black, Hispanic, and single moms are among the most affected.
Unemployment is higher for BIPOC women. Overall, unemployment stood at 6.3% in January. It was 5.1% for white women vs. 7.9% for Asian women, 8.5% for Black women, and 8.8% for Latinas.
The gender pay gap could get worse. Economists estimate the pandemic could increase it from 81 cents on the dollar to 76 cents. And that it’ll take years for the gap to return to its pre-coronavirus status.
A long(er) road to retirement. In the Before Times, women's retirement balances lagged men's. Now, they risk falling farther behind. Even short career breaks can = less money later. Not working means losing access to employer-sponsored retirement plans. And maybe smaller Social Security checks in the future.
Make Good (Money) Choices
If you’re worried about getting laid off...
Know that it's normal to have "pre-layoff" anxiety. But try to use this time to prep your finances. As in, trimming your expenses, adding to your emergency fund if you can, and making a plan for health insurance. Also, talk to your boss about what they think is on the horizon. Understanding where things stand can be comforting.
If you've struggled with impostor syndrome…
Fight it with a little help from licensed therapist Bea Arthur, CEO of The Difference. "At a time when women are being laid off in record numbers compared to [men], it’s easy to find an external signal that says we are disposable and don’t deserve recognition or respect," she said. Her advice: try an exercise called Good Gossip. "Many of us suffering from impostor syndrome imagine an audience judging, critiquing, and confirming our deepest insecurities," Arthur told us. "What if our imaginary audience was full of our fans instead? Imagine overhearing a conversation about yourself where someone describes you exactly as you like to be seen. Make a daily choice to amplify that voice, and see how your mindset changes."
If you're ready to close the gender wealth gap...
Start with your own wealth. If you have high-interest debt, prioritize paying it down. Because being in the hole makes it tough to get ahead. Invest more. If you're already investing for retirement, try to increase your contributions by at least 1% of your salary every six to 12 months and whenever you get a raise. Speaking of...if you deserve more, ask for it. Yes, even during a pandemic. And finally: normalize talking about work and money with your friends. Celebrate those accomplishments just as much as personal milestones.