As per their bankruptcy questionnaire which surveyed over 17,000 Americans in the last year, financial start-up Upsolve found that Black women filed for personal bankruptcies due to the COVID-19 pandemic at a far more distressing rate when in comparison to Black men, white women, and white men.
Essentially, there’s a link between the disproportionate job/wage loss Black women faced in 2020 and the group’s increased number of citing the pandemic as their reason for filing bankruptcy — which has more than doubled within less than the past year. According to Upsolve’s data, in April 2020, 20.8% of Black women cited the pandemic as the reason for their filing whereas in January 2021, 49.4% did. In comparison, 21.4% of white women cited the pandemic as their reason for filing in April of last year and 34.2% of them did this past January.
“Black women fared the worst when compared to other Upsolve users,” the nonprofit additionally gathered. “Black women were more likely to cite a loss of wages as a reason for their bankruptcy than their male counterparts. On average each month women accounted for 70% of Black Upsolve users citing a loss of wages as a reason for their bankruptcy. In August 2020, that number peaked as Black women comprised 76.3% of Black folks who cited a loss of wages as their motivation for filing for bankruptcy.”
Additionally, the report noted that based on their pool of surveyed users, Black communities in general are suffering from high levels of financial distress. As they highlighted, “racist policies have made it virtually impossible for Black families to create and build generational wealth” such as acquiring assets, and “rent is higher for Black Upsolvers in 27 of 42 states.” When it comes to work statistics, Black women in particular have suffered wage loss rates at an exponential degree as previously mentioned, but according to Upsolve’s report, “80% of Black workers hold a position that doesn’t allow remote work.” The latter was an important mention since Black communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and subsequently, many are now facing medical bills and debt that only further their financial issues because they have to work outside the home and have been at a higher risk of getting exposed.
While Upsolve can be useful to “low-income Americans in financial distress [who want to] access Chapter 7 bankruptcy even if they can’t afford to hire a lawyer,” if you are considering filing for the protection, keep in mind that the relief the filing can provide is “only available every eight years.” While systematic and societal changes need to be made in order to help Black women and communities achieve higher levels of financial freedom and success, doing things like lowering your mortgage, being prepared for “financial windfall,” and getting vaccinated to avoid COVID-19 related medical expenses are all individual things one might consider to as potential ways of lessening their financial burden.