Rising inflation and the struggling economy have left Black and Brown women between a rock and a hard place. A new study conducted by the Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) found that women of color are barely making ends meet because of the uncertain state of the economy.
ERA spoke with 637 women across 15 cities. 67 percent of respondents were Black. A majority of women, who were either Gen-Xers or Millenials, said their debt soared during the pandemic. According to the study, 55 percent of respondents also said their childcare responsibilities increased during the unprecedented crisis. “There is nearly a constant state of anxiety for working mothers and family breadwinners in this country,” Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, told MarketWatch.
Black and Brown working mothers were hit hard during the height of the pandemic. According to a study by the National Women’s Law Center, between February 2020 and April 2020, 22 million jobs were lost. 54 percent of those jobs were held by women of color.
Many women of color had to leave work to take care of their families
Black and Brown women are typically employed in industries like leisure, hospitality, and state and local government industries. Those sectors shrunk drastically during the COVID 19 crisis, and they are slowly recovering. 87 percent of Black and Brown respondents told ERA that their increased childcare demands impacted their work stability. 38 percent of respondents reduced their work hours to juggle their parenting responsibilities, while 17 percent were forced to leave their jobs because they couldn’t find adequate childcare.
When schools switched to online learning, some mothers had no choice but to leave the workforce and take care of their children at home, like Menyuan Jordan, a social worker from Austell, Ga.
“We are drowning in debt,” Jordan told MarketWatch. “My husband just had to take out money from his 401(k) just to pay the debt that we accumulated during COVID because I couldn’t work.”
The mother of three had over $150,000 in student loan debt after obtaining her master’s degree from Clark Atlanta University. She was in the process of getting her doctorate, but because of increasing expenses, she had to withdraw from school. Jordan and her husband accumulated $20,000 in credit card debt during their rough patch. “We sometimes had to pay bills with credit cards because we couldn’t make ends meet,” she said. “It’s the interest rate that’s killing us.”
Jordan is not alone. According to the survey, nearly a quarter of respondents held some form of credit card debt. 85 percent said they had taken on additional debt due to personal circumstances. 87 percent said their rocky finances have taken a toll on their mental health.