Black and Latina women have been particularly hard-hit by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, experiencing higher rates of income loss, food insecurity and struggles to pay bills on time, a new analysis from the National Women's Law Center finds.
The Census Bureau has been running a Household Pulse Survey since April 2020 to get a sense of the pandemic's effects on Americans. Now in its third phase, the survey includes questions related to employment, income loss, food sufficiency, and household spending, among other topics.
The nonprofit organization National Women's Law Center took a closer look at the survey results from March 3, 2021 to March 15, 2021 to see how some of these findings compare for women of different racial backgrounds and ethnicities.
"Due to already high rates of pre-pandemic economic insecurity and lost earnings due to racial and gender wage gaps, women entered the COVID-19 crisis with little or no financial cushion," NWLC wrote in a recent fact sheet.
Based on several metrics from the Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, NWLC found that the pandemic has been particularly devastating for non-Hispanic Black women and Latina women compared to non-Hispanic white women as well as non-Hispanic white men.
For instance, one in five non-Hispanic Black women and Latina women during the data collection period "reported experiencing food insufficiency in the previous seven days." Only 4.0% of non-Hispanic Asian women and 6.9% of non-Hispanic white women reported this. Feeding America wrote that racial disparities in food insufficiency have continued during the pandemic. Feeding America also estimates that 45 million people experienced food insecurity in 2020 and predicts an estimate of 42 million people for 2021.
Additionally, 59.3% of Latina women reported a loss of household income since March 2020 compared to 41.3% non-Hispanic white women. Additionally, 52.7% of non-Hispanic Black women reported this. The share of non-Hispanic Asian women who reported this was similar to that of non-Hispanic white women, at 41.5%. A larger share of Asian women, 4.7 percentage points higher, however expected a loss of household income in the next four weeks from the data collection period compared to white women.
"Millions of women were already supporting themselves and their families on meager wages before coronavirus-mitigation lockdowns sent unemployment rates skyrocketing and millions of jobs disappeared," Brookings wrote in October 2020 about the pandemic's effect on women.
The pandemic has not only affected employment and earnings for some women but also the ability to pay for household bills on time. Latina, Black, and Asian women all had a higher share of respondents saying they were behind on rent or mortgage payments compared to the share of respondents for either white men or white women. The share of non-Hispanic white women who reported being behind on mortgage payments was similar to that of non-Hispanic white men at 8.1% and 8.0% respectively.
Research from University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame also shows that the poverty rate reached its highest rate so far during the pandemic in March, from 10.3% in March 2020 to 11.7% in March 2021. The authors of this report note that women were one of the groups that "experienced the sharpest rise in poverty" in March, underlying the pandemic's negative impact on women.
Women did see another month of employment gain in March. There were 315,000 jobs added for women in March after a blowout employment report of 916,000 jobs gained. The unemployment rate for women also has dropped from pandemic highs to 5.9% in March. This rate is still higher than February 2020's rate of 3.4%.
"At this point we're moving in the right direction, but there's still a long way to go," Jasmine Tucker, the NWLC's director of research, previously told Insider.
NWLC found that it would take 15 months for women to reach pre-pandemic levels of employment based on March employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
C. Nicole Mason, the president and CEO of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, previously told Insider that getting the coronavirus under control and reopening schools for in-person learning would benefit women getting back into the labor force as some women have had to take on more childcare responsibilities during the pandemic.