The She-Cession and What it Means for Housing
Some economists have coined the economic slump brought on by the pandemic as a “she-cession” due to the disproportionate impact it has had on women, particularly women of color. According to the US Department of Labor statistics, as of February 1, 2021, women represent 80% of those who have dropped out of the labor force during the COVID pandemic.
There are many explanations for the disproportionate impact on women, especially women of color, but possibly the greatest contributing factor is occupational segregation. Hispanic and Black women are more likely to have low wage jobs (e.g. retail and hospitality) in urban areas that are most affected by the pandemic. These jobs are less likely to be able to be done remotely and thus those women have had to make the choice between losing needed income or risking their health. As a result, they contract COVID-19 at much higher rates than the general population. Job insecurity also leads to housing insecurity. Women are more likely than men to be renters and caregivers, therefore increasing the likelihood that they will fall behind on rent payment due to job insecurity. According to a late 2020 Zillow report, almost half of female renters are cost burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on housing. 25% percent of those women are severely cost burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing, compared to “just” 17% of male renters.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, female-led households were on an upward trajectory. Home values of female-headed households have been slowly increasing over the last decade. The ratio of women’s home values to home values overall is 95.9% as of August 2020, up from 91.9% a decade ago. In labor, women were making up a larger share of the workforce and seeing an increase in incomes, likely contributing to the increase in home values. This new analysis from Zillow finds that without interventions, these slow and steady improvements toward housing equality may be jeopardized by the she-cession.
Among other things, WRO provides grants for eviction prevention, relocation grants for the homeless and referrals to other agencies for needed services. In order to qualify for those grants, applicants must first apply for assistance at their local Department of Social Services Offices.