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Working women are in the ‘bull’s-eye’ of the recession. Here’s how to cope

There’s no doubt the coronavirus-induced economic recession is disproportionately affecting working women.

The average unemployment rate for July was 10.2%. Yet the rate for men was 9.8%, while women’s was 10.6%.

“They’re calling this a ‘she-cession,'” said personal finance expert Jean Chatzky, co-founder of HerMoney.

“When you look at the jobs that have been lost, the majority of them have been women-held jobs,” she explained. “But beyond that, women are also getting hit with the additional labor that is being required of us at home when it comes to taking care of our children and our households.”

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There has been some progress as jobs are added back as the economy restarts. However, work is still lacking. Between February and April, women lost more than 12.1 million jobs. Only 43% of the jobs women originally lost have returned, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center.

Meanwhile, young women ages 20 to 24 had the highest rates of unemployment last month compared to all other age groups of men and women 20 and over, according to the NWLC.

“Women — and especially women of color — are in the bull’s-eye of this pandemic and recession,” said Emily Martin, vice president for education and workplace justice at the center.

Kiyoshi Hijiki | Moment | Getty Images

While the unemployment rate for women age 20 and over was 10.5% in July, it was 14% for Latinas and 13.5% for Black women. In comparison, the rate for White men was 8.3% in July, the NWLC found.

Sectors like retail, leisure and hospitality, education and health care all shed women’s jobs, Martin pointed out.

“Even worse, the loss of the caregiving infrastructure of child care and school that enables many women to work threatens to cement these losses far into the future,” she said.

Hiring trends

Women are also being hired even less than before, according to a report by LinkedIn.

Women’s share of new hires dropped from 49.94% of hires pre-pandemic to 44.85% of hires following the outbreak, the analysis of LinkedIn data found.

The finance and entertainment industries, which saw an increase in women hires before the crisis, has lost ground. The technology industry, which has one of the lowest rates of females, has erased the gains it made over the last two years, the report said.

What to do

First, families must come together as a unit to divide and conquer tasks at home, so that women’s jobs don’t have to be put in jeopardy, Chatzky said.

“That means really sitting down and crafting a plan for stepping in, perhaps to tasks or jobs that weren’t on your plate originally.” she said. “Everybody’s got to come in and participate at this point when it comes to getting back into the workforce.”

While looking for work, don’t be afraid to ask for something you need to make a new job work for you, said LinkedIn career expert Blair Heitmann.

Consider jobs that will help nurture your soft skills, like adaptability and creativity, as those skills will serve you well, no matter where you ultimately land.

Blair Heitmann

career expert at LinkedIn

“Remote work, flexible schedules, and empathy and understanding should all be part of your criteria when job searching,” she said.

Also, think about where your skill set matches with industries that are hiring. That means thinking outside the box, especially if you were working in a hard-hit industry.

“You were in the restaurant field, you were in retail — you are largely out of luck at this point,” Chatzky said.

“But maybe you have customer service skills, for example that you could really put to use in health care, or in other fields that are hiring that really need you right now.”

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