The pandemic has taken a toll on many women’s finances. For some Black and Hispanic women, in particular, the financial pressure is intensifying.
More than 2.3 million women have left the labor force since February of last year, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Last month, the U.S. unemployment rate was 6.2%. For Black women and Latinas, it was over 8% compared with 5.2% for white women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
relief package still yet to be passed, the additional $300 to weekly unemployment payments is set to expire on March 14.
The current proposal would extend the enhanced benefits through September.
“The pandemic has amplified many of the challenges women work to overcome every day, particularly for Black women and Latinas who face racial wealth gaps in addition to gender wealth gaps,” said
JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s head of Advancing Black Pathways, the firm’s effort to invest in Black businesses and improve the financial health of Black communities.
Some women are having to make difficult financial decisions and change their lifestyles in ways they never expected.
One reason is the lack of a financial cushion: While the typical Black or Hispanic family has $2,000 or less in liquid savings, the typical white family has more than four times that amount, according to a September report from the Federal Reserve.
a server in Chicago, lost her job in March. Her 4-year-old son’s daycare shut down soon after.
The 29-year-old single mother had previously saved a portion of each paycheck and boosted her emergency fund to about six months of expenses. Her savings were gone by the end of September.
Realizing she had to move quickly to protect what was left of her savings, she stopped renting last spring and moved in with her parents and three siblings. She is now sharing a room with her son and her 22-year-old sister. Unemployment insurance has helped her contribute toward her parents’ household bills.
While Ms. Ocampo is thankful that she has a close family to assist her, she is disappointed that despite her savings and hard work, she and her son now need to rely on others. Her unemployment assistance is running out soon and with no steady job prospects in sight, she is fearful of what comes next.
“It’s very scary,” she said.
Black and Hispanic women also typically earn less than white women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hispanic women’s median weekly earnings in 2019 were $642, compared with $704 for Black women and $910 for white women, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Black and Hispanic women also held many of the retail and hospitality jobs that were badly hit by the pandemic, though the sectors registered some recovery in the past month.
Lower pay results in less money for daily expenses as well as less for savings, investing and funding one’s retirement, said
Lazetta Rainey Braxton,
a financial planner in Brooklyn, N.Y.
A recent study by Capital Group, to be released later this year, found that women of color were more likely than other women to use their Covid-19 relief checks to pay for basic necessities and bills rather than add the funds to savings accounts.
They may also be more likely to financially support family during times of crisis, which further pressures their finances. Nearly 30% of affluent Black women and Latinas financially supported friends and family in 2020, compared with 11% of affluent white women, according to a December study from J.P. Morgan Wealth Management.
Many also are less likely to receive the benefit of an inheritance. Sixty-eight percent of Black women neither have nor expect an inheritance compared with 39% of white women, according to a February study of Black investors by Charles Schwab and Ariel Investments.
These factors affect the ability to invest: 34% of Black women own individual stocks compared with 43% of white women, Charles Schwab and Ariel Investments found. So Black Americans aren’t benefiting from stock-market growth at the…