Nicole Mason, who coined the word to describe a recession that affects women overwhelmingly, explains what is important for a just recovery.
The U.S. is in a’ secession’ for the first time in history – an economic crisis in which women are more impacted than men by work and income losses. The word was invented by C. Nicole Mason, chairwoman and CEO of the think tank Center for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).
The word was proposed by Mason to illustrate the disproportionate effect on women of the economic downturn.
More than 11 million women have lost their employment since February and another 2.65 million have fallen out of the labor force, according to an IWPR review of Department of Labor statistics.
Mason recently spoke to the Guardian about what needs to be changed for a fair economic recovery to take place.
What do you think about the debates in Congress on an economic stimulus package?
What frustrates me about this phase is that I don’t believe that politicians are putting families first on both sides of the aisle, staff first, constituents first, because they’re sort of obsessed with their political positions… I get the feeling that they just have a hard time understanding how working people are impacted by this downturn.
What are the long-term implications, especially for women of color, of not responding to these problems?
There are very obvious long-term implications: housing shortages and food insecurity are only two of them. There was a moratorium on evictions, but many families won’t be able to afford when it expires and rent is due.
So far, it’s been postponed, but in 2021, we’re expected to see a housing crisis, whether it’s rentals or mortgages.
Many women have been unemployed for 28 weeks or longer, especially women of color.
So, the more women remain unemployed, the more difficult it is for them to find a job or return to the workforce. This certainly has a long-term effect on their economic stability and well-being, as well as their earnings.
Especially when you think about women in the service industry. One of the sectors where expertise doesn’t matter as much is the service sector.
I know a woman who worked for 20 years in the same company in the food industry, and she lost her job. You can assume that, over time, she earned small raises or wage increases.
But you apply for a job in the food and hospitality industry and you start again at the beginning.
It’s not like you can say, “Hey, at my other job in food service, I was there for 20 years and when I left, I was making $25 an hour.” If the minimum wage or the entry level wage for a food service job is $15 an hour and there are people competing for those positions because we’ve lost so many, that’s what you’re going to receive.
Since the last recession, there has been a lot of attention to men who have lost employment and whose position has changed across the world.
Are we going to be talking about angry women going to the polls in the next five years because they feel let down by the country?
Joe Biden was in a warehouse right as the presidential candidates were running and talking about job growth, wearing a hard hat, talking about how we’re going to put people back to work.
“Who is he talking about?”Who is he talking about?”Don’t worry, women, we’re going to create jobs for your men.”Don’t worry, women, we’re going to create your men’s jobs.
My fear is that we’re going to try to replicate the 2008 stimulus package to bring people back to work, ignoring the reality that women are the hardest hit – caregiving is one of the biggest obstacles to women getting back to work – and that’s only going to miss the mark.
And I anticipate a very big, comprehensive stimulus package that’s going to focus on job growth, and it’s going to be like, “We’re going to build roads, solar panels,” and it’s just that we need infrastructure like care, not roads like infrastructure. That’s fine, but we need to concentrate on the communities most impacted by this economic downturn as well.
Are there areas where hope is visible?
This drum is hammered by a number of women’s groups and think tanks… I’m slightly hopeful, and I know that we need to keep going.
There are several conflicting priority goals, I know,