Why are women experiencing an extra financial hit from the COVID – 19 outbreak?
14 May 2020
We have almost reached the middle of this year 2020, but still, the whole world is talking only about one issue – the outbreak of COVID – 19 viruses, writes Patricia Sanders
Till now, approx 4.18m active cases were found all over the world, and nearly 286k people were dead due to this outbreak.
The healthcare professionals are working very hard to keep patients healthy, medical researchers or scientists continuously looking for a cure to this outbreak, but still, we need to fight a few more months to get a resolution.
Apart from the federal authorities, core professionals, and doctors, common people don’t know much about this pandemic.
‘from the financial point of view, it’s clear like daylight that women have taken the biggest hit’
People are making theories about the CORONA outbreak, and its effects. One important speculation that is circulating through social media and effecting the common is – Gender gap in vulnerability to coronavirus.
As per CNN, the COVID-19 greatly impacted the health care workers more than others. Most of those workers are young and 70% of them are women. So, it can be assumed that women are physically more affected due to coronavirus pandemic than men.
As per a report provided by PayScale, from the financial point of view, it’s clear like daylight that women have taken the biggest hit from the COVID – 19 outbreak within the last 6 months.
As per another report provided by the Organization for Economic Cooperation And Development, new employment options are created during this tough economic downfall, mostly focused on men.
This is the basic reason why women are greatly affected by COVID – 19 outbreak and find it difficult to get another income source.
This isn’t the only reason women facing hardship due to coronavirus outbreak. There are a few more reasons that should get our attention.
4 Biggest reasons why women are experiencing an extra financial hit from the COVID – 19 outbreak
Reason no 1 – Family caregiving
Practically, women are the ones who manage time from their work to care for their families and elders.
As many schools and workplaces are closed, their kids, as well as elderly family members are at home 24×7. So, most women tend to take time away from work to attend parents or family members who are at risk or confined.
When those women try to get back to work, they’ve offered 7% less than an employee who is currently working for the same position.
PayScale’s director of research, Sudarshan Sampath, added in PayScale’s 2020 State of the Gender Pay Gap report – “The coronavirus pandemic has exposed these cultural faults with our economic system. There is a strong likelihood they will not get rehired or they’ll come back on reduced terms.”
Reason no 2 – Unpaid caregivers
Women and girls are the people who do most of the world’s unpaid care work. As per the International Labour Organization (ILO), women workers normally provide 76.2% of total hours of unpaid care work, which is more than 3x times as much as men workers.
If we consider Asia and the Pacific, that figure nearly reached 80%.
As health care systems are becoming inaccessible day by day due to the increased number of affected people, many patients with COVID-19 may need to be treated at home by women.
This way women need to take the burden, and it may also put them at greater risk of becoming infected.
Reason no 3 – Job loss and the wage gap
American women are commonly part-time workers and low-wage earners compared to men. Practically, 62% of minimum-wage and lower-wage employees are female.
These workers are likely to experience a greater risk of job loss when businesses such as restaurants, stores, hotels, and airports are shutting down due to the pandemic.
Even if women do their work professionally, and do not take abnormal leaves, they might have lost their job due to the business downfall.
Unfortunately, women are less able to understand the harm that is caused by job loss, as they are typically paid less than men while working in the same job profile and designation.
In our country, 1.4 million citizens lost their jobs in March. Women are affected mostly, with a 0.9% increase in unemployment than a 0.7% increase for men.
Vice president of education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, Emily Martin said – “Women are over-represented in the low-paid service economy jobs that are getting slammed right now with layoffs. That means hundreds of thousands of dollars lost in the wage gap that is not available as a nest egg to families in this time of crisis.”
Taking out a significant time from work for the family has become the most important factor that contributes to the gender wage gap.
According to PayScale, compared to men, women are now getting 81 cents for every $1 (the ratio of median earnings).
If we look closely at the controlled pay gap, the difference in pay for men and women, working on the same profile job, will be clear.
Women earn 98 cents per $1 earned by men. That means, over 40-year employment, by doing the same job over a year, women are earning $80,000 less than men.
With such low wages, female employees often face critical financial issues such as credit card debts, tax debt issues, medical bill problems, etc.
As low-income individuals, they often need to take help from credit counseling agencies to handle credit card debts/medical bills. They also consult with tax relief companies and opt for tax debt consolidation options.
‘should be a call to action to ensure that (women) are paid decently and fairly and equitably’
During this pandemic, the situation became worse. Female workers are dealing with the most risk during this outbreak, where the wage gap is getting larger than the previous one.
As per the report, female elementary school teachers earn 92 cents per $1, and women doctors make 94 cents per $1, compared to men with the same designation. Female registered nurses earn 98 cents as usual.
Emily Martin added on this situation- “We are seeing the critical role of the women working in these occupations in this moment of crisis. It really should be a call to action to ensure that they are paid decently and fairly and equitably.”
But with such great effort, the discrimination and the wage gap has been slowly turning into a positive direction. As per PayScale’s survey – In 2018, women employees earned 78 cents per $1 earned by men. In 2019 it becomes 79 cents (+1), and in 2020, 81 cents (+3).
Reason no 4 – Unpaid sick leaves
According to Pew Research, The U.S. and South Korea are the two countries in the OECD which don’t allow paid sick leaves to the employees.
During the COVID – 19 outbreak, approximately 67% of the private sector workers, and only 30% of the low-wage employees ($10.80 or less/hour) become eligible for paid sick leave. Apart from that, only less than 50% of part-time employees were allowed to get sick leaves.
Fortunately, from the initial days of the pandemic, multinational companies such as Facebook, Salesforce, and Microsoft decided to support their employees and increased sick leave benefits.
The federal government is working hard to pass a bill that would help employees to get paid leave benefits.
But, as per the emergency legislation, only 20% of employees get paid leave benefits. Also, companies with 500 or more employees will be excluded from these benefits.
Apart from paid sick leaves, women employees are also facing a shortage of paid caregiver policies. Today, merely 16% of private-industry employees may get paid caregiver leaves. As a result, taking too many sick family leaves can increase financial issues for female caregivers.
So, these are the 4 core reasons why women are facing financial difficulties, much more than men.
Women made up a large share of jobs in various sectors such as healthcare, restaurants, social assistance jobs, preschool, kindergarten teachers, flight attendants, etc.
Due to the outbreak, most of these industries are shutting down their business.
As a result, women, not only in the USA but all over the world, are experiencing extra financial pressure due to COVID – 19 outbreaks.
Patricia is a freelance writer, into personal finance, money management, wealth management and related blogging. She is also a contributor writer at many sites – find her on Linkedin
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