August turned out to be a really bad month for women and unemployment as the unemployment rate jumped from 4.6 % in July to 5.3%, an increase that hasn’t been seen since 1975. This spike reflects eight long months of job loss, and at this point the rate of women’s unemployment is climbing at twice the rate of men’s.
Sadly, single mothers and black mothers took brutal hits. Single mothers are facing the highest unemployment in the past 15 years and the unemployment rates for black females jumped to an incredible 9.1%. This is especially scary considering that 62% of poor families with children are families headed by women. In the Hispanic culture, the poverty rate for female headed homes is 46.6% and in the black culture 43% of female-headed families are within the poverty level.
In addition, women are more likely to have a subrpime mortgage loan and to have no unemployment insurance benefits. (read more here).
Why the spike in women’s unemployment last month? Some speculate this is because women make up a lot of the food, beverage and retail employee pool as well as holding government positions; both of these workforces are now being hit in these trying times. Retail workers are being laid off as people are cutting back on spending due to the financial strain that many of us are facing and stores aren’t seeing the same customer numbers, or monetary gains, they had when times were good.
Others believe that since our society has changed from the times when women occupied more ‘female’ type jobs, such as school teachers and nurses, and women have been taking up jobs that were once considered more male-oriented, such as those in fields of business and management, they are now feeling the layoffs when these positions are cut. For instance, last month the CEPR reported that manufacturing was the hardest hit and the auto sector came in second.
Another frightening thought: Many people are out of work and scrambling for lower paying jobs or part time work – anything that they can get their hands on to pay a few bills- and at the same time many of these lower paying jobs, such as retail, are the jobs being cut. So we have more and more people scrambling for work with less and less jobs available.
In the same breath, some of these people scrambling for the jobs are the same people who got caught into the home buying frenzy a few years ago, when prices were at their peak and 100% financing was (ridiculously) touted by some as the best thing next to sliced bread and butter. Now those mortgages are doubling as interest rates skyrocket, the homeowners have lost their jobs, and fewer and fewer jobs are available for those homeowners to take.
What happens when the paycheck is gone?
If you aren’t scared, you should be. We should all be. Even if this loss of employment has not hit you personally, meaning someone in your family or someone that you love has lost a job, it is hitting your neighbors and friends.
Just look at the number of homes for sale in your neighborhood, or in your town. Check out foreclosure rates. If someone cannot pay for her home, where does she go? What if she has children? Where do they live? Shelters have reported a greater influx of people now; if they run out of space, what is the next step?
It’s a scary thought, but one that we should all be considering each day.
Where do we go from here?
And how can those of us who are more fortunate than others help out those who aren’t?