Not Working 9 to 5: It’s a “She-Cession” Economy

Pademic Impacts Women in the Workforce

The nation’s economy has taken a definitive feminine twist if you look at how the media is reporting recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Call it the “She-Cession,” as first coined by C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy based in Washington, D.C. Currently, this trending reference captures the data-driven notion that the COVID-19 pandemic has made a more significant economic impact on women than men.

Other labels are emerging.

The “second pandemic” title is gaining ground as first stated by Lorna Borenstein, CEO of Grokker, a San Jose, California-based company providing employee health engagement and personal wellbeing services. In a nod to the classic girly color, “The Pink Collar Recession” moniker is highlighted in recent headlines accompanying articles discussing how employers are scrambling and struggling to get women back at work.

Take your preferred pick: The results are the same. The nation’s economy is suffering because women aren’t working in their former jobs.

Economic Losses by the Numbers

In an effort to frame the impacts COVID-19 has had on working women, here are some the not-so-pretty numbers:

  • Women lost 5.5 million jobs during the first ten months of the pandemic. That is one million more jobs than what were lost by men.

  • In January 2021, another 275,000 women left the workforce, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • In December 2020, the U.S. economy lost 227,000 jobs – 196,00 of those were jobs held by women, according to the BLS.

  • When the nation’s overall unemployment rate jumped up to 14.7 percent in April 2020, the unemployment rates for African-American and Latino women were 16.9 and 20.2 percent respectfully.

There isn’t enough ink to print all the statistics documenting how COVID-19 took women out of the workforce.

Clearly, the path to emerging from the She-Cession is still being created. Here are some pieces of advice financial advisors can share with their clients to help them take the first necessary steps.

Create a COVID-Free Revolving Child Care Pod

In a creative twist on the adage, “it takes a village,” the idea of creating a child-care network in which all participants agree to cover child-care needs in a rotation based on work schedules is a proactive move mothers can make.

Childcare pod“Consider creating a pandemic pod where you include a select number of people or families who have all been screened for coronavirus,” suggests Marie Thomasson, founder of Modern Assets, based in Los Angeles, California, with its focus on advising women and their families.

In a press release created by CISION PR Newswire, she advises the members of the pod “could help shoulder the burden of kid-watching duties.”

Be sure to check regulations in your local area so that your pod doesn’t create a situation where you have more children than are allowed under in-home care and thus potentially end your childcare pod.

Have a frank discussion regarding your concerns and make an agreement about how the cost of snacks, and meals will be handled. And, be ready to tolerate a bit more mess in your home when it is your turn.

Take a Strong Grip on The Budget Reins

An individual woman cannot control when the schools or daycare centers will reopen, but she can take even greater control of her household budget and spending.
Now is the time for slashing spending, said Thomasson.

Thomasson encouraged women to take another look at their household spending plan. She is not making that recommendation out of thin air – the single mother of twin boys said she had to do the same thing.

“Cut everything that can be cut,” she said. “If it’s not essential, cut it back.”

Budegt1000x445Focusing on the notion of living within the means you have, is another piece of advice from Shweta Lawande, an analyst at Francis Financial based in New York, New York. That idea is something an individual can master, she urges.

“What we’re trying to share with our clients in this time is to focus on what they can control,” Lawande said in a January 27, 2021, CNBC article regarding how women can rebuild their retirement accounts after losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. She notes that “living with their means” has most likely changed due to the pandemic and budget shifts need to be made to reflect those changes. “While they can’t control lockdowns or the job market, they can make sure their budgets are airtight.”

Lawande also suggests taking a second look at current investments. She is not advocating that people pull out of the market; but instead, her recommendation is to ensure that investments are adequately diversified in a mix of bonds, real estate, cash, stocks and other options.

Get New Skills

Change brings new opportunity, and the upheaval of COVID-19 fits that perspective.

Thomasson suggests learning new technology-based skills such as coding.

“There are a number of grants for women who want to expand their skill set or start a new business,” she said pointing to the Mom Project and its new program RISE, which is a scholarship offering women a way to pay for training to receive technical certification.

A Challenge We’ve Always Had

The COVID-19 pandemic aimed a spotlight on a longstanding problem in America, but one lurking in the shadows of the highly structured lives of working mothers.

Kiddos going to school for the bulk of the working day and babies and toddlers being brought to childcare centers while mom goes to her job are a critical support component making it possible for women to work.

“The She-Cession is real, but truly, it’s just magnifying a situation that we’ve already had for far too long in our society,” Thomasson said.

That fact is being recognized by Janet Yellen, the Biden administration’s Secretary of the Treasury. When she was a child, her mother quit her job to take care of her and her older brother; and Yellen has a son, so she knows firsthand how childcare impacts working women.

Yellen is supporting Biden’s 1.9 trillion stimulus deal making its way through Congress as of press time.

“The American rescue package that President Biden has proposed really address the problems that women face,” Yellon told “It places huge emphasis on getting our schools open safely, getting children back into school, providing paid family and medical leave during this crisis so that women don’t have to leave their jobs. I think this is really necessary to get women back to work.”

In Conclusion

American history is heavily dotted with instances of women playing an efficient role in overcoming adversity, including economic challenges. Women took care of the home front during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Women led the charge against slavery. Women characterized by Rosie the Riveter in World War II brought the nation’s economy out of its stagnant state and manufactured the war reparations needed for the European and Pacific war theatres. During the ten-year period after the end Great Recession in 2010 caused by the 2007-2009 collapse of the housing bubble, women gained 11.1 million jobs. Between February and April of 2020, those gains were lost, according to a fact sheet produced by the Bahnsen Group of New York, New York, using data from the federal BLS. Certainly, that is a discouraging statistic, but through the annuls of history we find a plethora of examples in which women have bounced back. There is no reason why 2021 and beyond won’t be marked with more of the same.


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