While the coronavirus pandemic had an impact on nearly everyone, women will face some unique challenges in the coming months. At times, women were disproportionately affected by certain aspects of the pandemic, putting them potentially in a tougher position moving forward. As a result, many women will have a tougher hill to climb if they want to recover. If you are wondering about financial challenges facing women after the pandemic, here’s what you need to know.
The Negative Impact of the Pandemic
In many areas, job losses among women were significantly higher than men. Pre-pandemic, 46 percent of women were in low-wage jobs, while only 37 percent of men were in those positions. When the pandemic struck, those positions weren’t as likely to be able to transition into remote roles. As a result, unemployment among women rose fast and outpaced the unemployment rate for men.
Some of those lower-wage jobs have also been slow to return. For example, restaurant dining rooms were closed during the height of the pandemic and are reopening slowly. While both genders may work as waitstaff, approximately 67 percent of servers are women.
A job loss always creates financial hardship. While unemployment coverage was boosted during the pandemic, many households continued to struggle. Even if a creditor attempted to offer some leeway, ongoing late or missed payments are usually damaging, harming credit scores, and potentially causing accounts to go to collections.
Caring for Children
When schools and childcare facilities closed, the burden of caring for children fell harder on women than men. Approximately one-in-four women who were unemployed during COVID-19 cited a lack of childcare as being a driving force, a rate that was twice what was found with men.
Leaving the workforce, even temporarily, comes with financial ramifications. It can mean tapping into emergency funds, falling behind on bills, and putting retirement savings on hold. As a result, the hardships can be short- and long-term, as those financial decisions or situations can have lasting consequences.
In some cases, handling household expenses meant turning to debt. While many households saw their costs fall during the pandemic, that wasn’t universally the case. For example, grocery bills rose for many households, as well as utilities.
While it is by no means universally true, about 17 percent of women ended up with more debt as the pandemic unfolded. This creates a potential long-term financial hardship, particularly for traditionally higher interest debts like credit cards.
Overcoming the Financial Challenges After the Pandemic
Ultimately, on average, women may have a slightly steeper uphill climb than men after the pandemic. Job losses often take time to resolve, and certain sectors have been slow to recover. Additionally, many women had little choice but to put their careers on pause, causing them to lose ground that can be hard to regain.
However, that doesn’t mean the situation is impossible. Diligence and time can make recovery possible, especially since the economy is continuing to march toward recovery.
As long as women are aware of the challenges and financial shifts they experienced, creating a plan to move forward is possible. While it may mean more saving to recoup losses or aggressive debt repayment strategies, any harm can potentially be repaired.
Small Steps Matter
Even small steps matter. For example, just a few dollars a week set aside can get someone started with reestablishing an emergency fund, and an extra $10 a month sent to debt can reduce the amount of interest paid, potentially in a meaningful way.
Ultimately, recovery will take time. Luckily, by having a strategy and taking any step forward – no matter how little – progress is possible, and, in the end, that’s what matters.
Can you think of any other financial challenges facing women after the pandemic? Do you have any tips that can help them overcome those difficulties? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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