Recession with a difference: Women face a special burden


It was not until World War II, when women were urgently needed in factories and offices to replace men who were in the military, that the government established an extensive network of nurseries and day care centers. subsidized by the federal government in almost all states. When the war is over, so is support.

“You cannot have a happy mother working in a war factory if she is worried about her children, and you cannot have children roaming the streets without a detrimental effect on generations to come,” testified Senator Carl Hayden, a Democrat from Arizona. 1943.

Women represent about half of the country’s labor force. They range from beginner to professional level, they live in urban, suburban and rural areas, and they often care for toddlers and adolescents. But the burden of the pandemic-induced recession fell most heavily on low-income and minority women and single mothers.

Members of these overlapping groups often have the most unpredictable hours and the fewest benefits, and are the least able to afford child care. They perform most of the essential tasks that cannot be performed at home and, therefore, carry the greatest risk of exposure to the virus. At the same time, they represent a disproportionate share of the service industries that have lost the most jobs. The unemployment rate is 9.2% for black women and 9% for Hispanic women.

When the pandemic caused housework to dry up, Andrea Poe was able to find cleaning work at a resort in Orange Beach, Alabama, about a 45-minute drive from Pensacola, Fla., Where she and her 14-year-old daughter . , Cheyenne Poe, had moved in with an eldest daughter, her fiancé and their five children.

Families were behind on rent and threatened with eviction when Hurricane Sally ravaged the coast in September. To escape the flooding, they piled into two cars, drove to Biloxi, Mississippi, and spent five nights in a Walmart parking lot.

Now Ms. Poe and Cheyenne, who turned 15, are in Peoria, Arizona, living in a room in her mother’s trailer.


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