Coronavirus pandemic sparks 'She-cession' among U.S. women

The coronavirus has sparked a recession for women, or a 'she-cession,' as a massive number of women have been forced to leave the workforce.

Thamicha Isaac, a single mom to two boys, has struggled financially during the pandemic.

"My last paycheck was in march," said, Isaac.

Isaac is HIV positive and immune-compromised, so she had to stop working as an HIV testing counselor at the start of the pandemic as she didn't feel safe going to work in person. It's meant she's had to tighten her family's budget.

"With my boys we have to stretch meals and make food last a little longer than usual," Isaac said. One of her sons is 14, the other, 11 years old, is autistic. She's now supervising both for all-remote learning.

Isaac is one of the faces of the "She-cession," the disproportionately female financial crisis that has come with the coronavirus pandemic.

According to analysis from the National Women's Law Center of the 1.1 million workers who dropped out of the workforce just last month, 80 percent were women.

"We hear these stories from our friends, our neighbors, and people that we know," said C. Nicole Mason, President, and CEO of the Institute for Women's Policy Research. "Truthfully about 800,000 people, women have left the labor force because of issues like childcare and having to home school." 

Mason says the childcare dilemma is one driving factor of the "She-cession," another is that women are more likely to work in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.

"The service sector, education, hospitality, leisure," Mason said. "Women and women of color specifically are over-represented in those sectors and those are the sectors we've lost the most jobs since the start of the pandemic."

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After months, Isaac found a new part-time job, but research shows it's difficult for most women to re-enter the workforce.

"Women, when they are unemployed, when they do lose their jobs, it takes them longer to re-enter the workforce and find another job," said Kweilin Ellingrud, a senior partner at Mckinsey & Company, which just released its annual "Women in the Workplace" report.

Their conclusion? The current outlook is grim when it comes to gender equality.

"This really risks 5, even 10 years of progress in terms of taking us backwards," Ellingrud said. 

As far as when a "She-covery" could come, it will likely take years. Experts agree in order for it to happen, relief, including paid childcare, is needed from the federal level.