By now we’ve all heard the phrase, “when America gets a cold, Black people get the flu.” It’s a particularly fitting sentiment at this juncture in our nation’s history as we see early data showing African Americans are dying at higher rates from coronavirus than any other group. Now a new survey shows the financial effects of COVID-19 are disproportionately affecting Black women, which unfortunately comes as no surprise considering we’re already subjected to discriminatory hiring practices and a gender wage gap that severely limits our professional and financial growth.
The survey conducted by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s non-profit organization, Lean In, was conducted between April 1 and April 3 of this year and included 2,986 adults over the age of 18 living in the United States. Topline findings revealed:
- Black women were twice as likely as white men to say that they’d either been laid off, furloughed, or had their hours or pay reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic: 54% versus 27%.
- Black women were more than three times as likely (34%) as white men (11%) to say they wouldn’t be able to pay for basic necessities for more than a month if they lost their income.
When it comes to those basic necessities, Black women’s concern about their ability to pay trumps that of white men in all three areas they were asked about: rent/mortgage (60% vs 24%); groceries (43% vs 18%), and child care (13% vs 3%). Overall, women were more concerned than men about paying for basic needs without going into debt, but when the responses were parsed out by race and gender, Black women (59%) and Black men (54%) expressed the highest concern, followed by Latinx/Asian and other women of color (50%). Considering those same groups were also more concerned about being laid off or having their hours cut than white men, those figures make sense.
LeanIn.Org says over the next several weeks it will be fielding a series of questions to better understand the impact the coronavirus is having on women, but the present data confirms remarks Sandberg made to Business Insider in an interview earlier this month. “Inequality is very real, and it’s been very real for a really long time. Any time systems get put under pressure, there’s a crisis. Those differences get massively exacerbated.”