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COVID-19 Could Be Causing a ‘She-session’

According to a Zillow report [1], working women are being far more negatively affected by the recent recession resulting from the pandemic. In fact, the disproportion between men and women as they face housing impacts due to unemployment, housing tenure, and child care, is so blatant that the recession has now been dubbed the “she-cession." ( A term reportedly coined by labor economist Armine Yalnizyan.)

This is especially frustrating for the female workforce that had been fighting successfully to narrow the gender gap in myriad areas during recent years. Now, this pandemic-led recession threatens to wipe much of that hard-earned progress away. According to Zillow’s report, this year began strong—with more women than ever holding their own in the workforce. Women were also starting to earn more income, and women-headed households were even increasing in value. All signs pointed to go.

However, the arrival of COVID-19 to the scene not only paused that progress, but it very likely looks to have sent women several steps back, especially in the areas of housing and employment. Data supporting this assertion includes the fact that unemployment claims for women shot up 1,368% (year over year) at the height of the COVID-19 recession. Also, just this past month, a shocking statistic of 80% of those dropping out of the workforce were reported to be women.

More bad news on this same front shows data revealing that renters, who have been known to be the hardest group hit by the recession in the area of housing, are far more likely to be women. And among those women renters, almost half reported spending almost a third of their income (30% at least) on housing costs.

"Beyond the social and cultural pressures on women to be the primary caretakers in their households, there are significantly more female-headed households led by single parents," Zillow reported. "Female-headed renter households are more than twice as likely as male-headed renter households to be single parents—70% of mothers who are household heads are single parents, compared to only 32% of fathers."

Reports suggest [2] the "double hit" of being more likely to work in industries affected by layoffs, and, with more schools eschewing in-school education versus virtual, online studies, and a great number of child care facilities shuttering their doors (all due to concerns over the current pandemic), many more working mothers than fathers have reported being out of work due to the rising commitment and need for child care coverage.