Loss of Opportunity: Women and COVID-19

by Nick VinZant, for Quotewizard

Every March, we celebrate the achievements of women during Women’s History Month. The last year, however, has been filled with setbacks. With fewer jobs, unequal access to healthcare and more exposure to COVID-19 on the frontlines, our data suggests that women—especially women of color—have disproportionately borne a greater share of the pandemic’s toll.

You can find the full report, along with demographic breakdowns, illustrative charts and images at the link: quotewizard.com/news/posts/loss-of-opportunity-women-and-covid-19

Key findings:

• The unemployment rate for women was consistently higher than that for men throughout most of 2020, reaching up to 16 percent in April.

• Women had 51.7 percent of the share of unemployment claims. In Vermont, that number reached 66.7 percent.

• Thirty-three percent of women did not work due to COVID-19-related child care issues compared to 10.2 percent of men.

• Nationally, 43.7 percent of women delayed or had no access to health care compared to 36.8 percent of men.

• The rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K since November 2020 was 205.7, compared to 177.8 for men.

• Women consisted of 64.4 percent of all frontline workers during the pandemic. Women make up 76.8 percent of health care workers.

• According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make nearly 20 percent less than men. In real dollars, that’s roughly $195 a week or $10,157 a year less.

Opportunities lost: The first wave of job losses started shortly after lockdowns began. In March 2020, the unemployment rate for women was 4.4 percent. By April, it was over 16 percent. And while men also saw a dramatic increase in unemployment, the unemployment rate for women was consistently higher throughout most of 2020.

The unemployment gap between men and women is even more stark when broken down across state and demographic lines. According to the most recent statistics available, women represented more than 55% of unemployment insurance (UI) claims in 12 states—55.8 percent in New Jersey.

Jobs and women of color: Broad statistics mask the pandemic’s impact on women of color. We found that women who identify as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, or Asian had an unemployment rate several points higher than men as a whole.

In addition, according to the National Women’s Law Center, more than 5.3 million women have left the workforce since February 2020. This means only 57 percent of women are working, the lowest number since 1988.

Jobs and Childcare: Child care is one reason large numbers of women left the workforce. By analyzing Census Bureau Pulse Surveys, we found women were three times more likely to not be working because of child care.

Health care toll: The coronavirus’ impact on women’s health goes far beyond the number of COVID-19 cases. Throughout the pandemic, we found women reported higher levels of depression and anxiety, while also having less access to health care.

Frontline essentials: From nurses and child care providers to grocery store clerks and pharmacy technicians, women make up a majority (in some cases a vast majority) of essential workers.

Despite their proportionally larger role in the essential workforce, women are being paid less, as detailed above.

For many women, the issues highlighted above sound all too familiar. For too long, women have struggled with unequal representation, unequal pay and unequal opportunity, the ongoing pandemic only accelerated and exposed those issues even more. Women of color, especially, have lost more jobs and struggled to find health care while also working on the frontlines of this dangerous disease.

Nearly 77 percent of all health care workers are women. Nationwide, 27 million women are frontline or essential workers—that’s 64 percent of all workers. The burden of the COVID-19 outbreak has not been felt equally. We must keep this in mind if we want to truly recover. Because the issues many women faced before the pandemic have only become more dire to address.

Methodology: QuoteWizard’s team of analysts evaluated eight data sets to represent the unequal toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on women compared to men. For details, visit quotewizard.com/news/posts/loss-of-opportunity-women-and-covid-19

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