For the first time in history, the United States is in a “recession,” an economic recession in which the loss of jobs and income affects women more than men. The term was coined by C Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IPR), a think tank.
Mason introduced the term to highlight the disproportionate impact of this economic recession on women. More than 11 million women have lost their jobs and another 2.65 million have left the workforce since February, according to a IPR analysis of labor department data.
Mason spoke to The Guardian recently about what needs to change to achieve a fair economic recovery.
What is your assessment of CongressDiscussions about an economic recovery package?
What I find frustrating about this process is that politicians on both sides of the aisle don’t seem to put families first, workers first, people first, and are a little concerned about their political positions … It suggests that they are really having a hard time understanding how this recession is affecting working families.
What are the long-term consequences of not responding to these issues, especially for women of color?
The long-term consequences are very clear: housing insecurity and food insecurity are just two. There has been a moratorium on evictions, but when the rent expires, many families will not be able to pay. It has been delayed at this point, but we will likely see a housing crisis in 2021, be it rentals or mortgages.
Many women, women of color, have been unemployed for 28 weeks or more. Therefore, the longer women stay out of the workforce, the more difficult it will be for them to get a job or return to the workforce. That will definitely have a long-term impact on your long-term financial security and well-being, and your bottom line.
Especially if you think about women in the service sector. The service sector is one of those industries where experience does not count as much. I know a woman who has worked at the same company in the food industry for 20 years and lost her job. You can imagine that, over time, you received gradual raises or salary increases.
But in the food and hospitality industry, you apply for a job and start all over again. It’s not like you can say, “Hey, in my other foodservice job I was there for 20 years and when I left I was making $25 an hour.” If the minimum wage or starting wage for a foodservice job is $15 an hour and there are people fighting for these jobs because we’ve lost so many, that’s what you will gain.
Since the last recession, a lot of attention has been paid to men who lost their jobs and seen their position in the country change. Are we going to talk about angry women in the next five years who are voting because they feel abandoned by the country?
Even when presidential candidates were campaigning and talking about job creation, Joe Biden was in a factory, wearing a helmet, talking about how we’re going to get people back to work. And I thought “Who is he talking about?” Or even when Donald Trump said “Don’t worry women, we will get jobs for their husbands. “
What I fear is that, although women have been the most affected, care is one of the main barriers for women going back to work: we’re going to try to duplicate the recovery package we saw in 2008 to get people back to work and it just won’t make sense. Because I anticipate a really big, solid recovery plan that will focus on job creation and it will be things like, “We’re going to build roads, solar panels,” and it’s just, we need infrastructure like care, not infrastructure like roads. Okay, but we also need to focus on the people who have been hit the hardest by this economic recession.
Are there places where you see hope?
There is a group of women’s organizations and think tanks that have been playing this drum … I am a bit optimistic and I think we should also keep pushing. I know there are many competing priorities for the incoming administration, but we only have one big shot up front to make sure we can move towards a fair and even recovery. And whether we leave the women out or don’t focus on the discussion, we’ll be back in six months trying to figure out how to do it.
If Biden called and asked what we should do, would you give him his Build the future report?
Yes. I would give you the report and tell you that these are things that must happen. It is not just about quick fixes. These are structural and institutional changes that must occur. Part is short term and what we need now.
But this won’t be the last recession, so we need to be doing the work now to fix those broken systems, to create a vibrant, real social safety net that is not necessarily resource-tested, but accessible to everyone. when there is This need is really very important. We will have to reinvent some of our social programs, our social safety net, and our infrastructure: health and care.
We need to make sure that next time we don’t have to inject trillions of dollars in financial aid because we have a solid infrastructure, and we just pull those levers.
This interview was edited for its length
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism