CONCORD — Women workers of the Granite State have been most affected by the COVID-19 economic fallout, a new report released this month by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute shows.
The share of unemployment attributed to women in New Hampshire is estimated to be higher than any other time within the last 20 years, said the report titled “Challenges Facing New Hampshire’s Workers and Economy During the COVID-19 Crisis.”
Data from state Employment Security shows that from April to June 2020, about 58% of the people unemployed in New Hampshire were women – equating to nearly six out of every 10 people.
Nationally, Black and Hispanic women are the hardest hit, as many of the industries most affected by COVID-19 employ disproportionate numbers of non-white individuals.
The industries most immediately impacted by COVID-19, such as retail and restaurants, also rank in the top 10 occupations employing the largest number of women, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.
Simultaneously, more women than men in New Hampshire have been diagnosed with COVID-19. As of Friday, 56.3% of the state’s 7,573 total cases were female.
The new NHFPI report, released Sept. 4, also details how childcare availability and affordability, already existing challenges in the Granite State, have since been made worse by the pandemic – leading to a perfect storm for women, lost jobs and difficult decisions between work and children.
When childcare centers closed and subsequent jobs were lost, women paid the price in two ways. First, they make up 95% of the national childcare workforce, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Secondly, when schools went remote and childcare wasn’t readily available, it was mostly women who left their jobs or saw lost wages as a result of having to stay home with their children.
“According to national research, schools transitioning to remote learning and a lack of childcare opportunities place additional burdens on working parents, typically requiring reductions to work and employment,” the report states. “The same research also shows that this reduction in work due to childcare limitations disproportionately falls on women.”
National estimates show approximately one in five childcare workers have lost their job in the pandemic, “potentially leading to a more limited supply of childcare in the future and creating further hardships for parents,” the report said.
Childcare workers were already struggling to make ends meet pre-pandemic. In 2018, a woman working full-time, year-round in the child care industry made approximately $14.38 per hour.
Black women working in childcare typically made even less – approximately $12.98 per hour – and Latina child care workers made the least at $10.61 per hour, says the National Women’s Law Center.
Meanwhile, the costs of housing and food in New Hampshire have increased during the crisis, the NHFPI report states, creating “additional financial and employment hardships for many New Hampshire residents and families.”
Census Bureau survey data estimates that nearly half of all households in the state have reported a loss of income from employment since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March.