COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impression on working girls. Earlier than the pandemic, girls had made vital strides within the workforce. When the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics first started measuring girls’s labor power charges in 1948, 32 p.c of girls have been within the workforce. By the start of 2020, that quantity had elevated to nearly 58 percent.
Then the pandemic hit, driving over 2 million women out of the workforce. One issue behind the drop was vital job loss in sectors using predominantly girls, nonetheless, there are different elements.
For one factor, full-time working women earn 80 percent of what their male counterparts earn. In households with two working adults, it’s usually the decrease wage earner who leaves their job to imagine residence duties. Many ladies, due to this fact, have devoted extra time to homelife as they shoulder extra accountability for homeschooling and the caregiving of kids and grownup members of the family.
Fewer girls within the labor market will have an effect on family incomes, retirement financial savings, and the tempo of general financial restoration for years to come back. The long run monetary toll for ladies is especially alarming as a result of they are already more likely to face poverty than men during retirement, particularly Black girls and Latinas.
Whereas Social Safety is a vital security web, it isn’t sufficient to cowl prices in retirement. Girls’s Social Safety advantages are usually smaller than their male counterparts for causes talked about above. But, many women age 65-plus rely on Social Security for nearly all of their income.
In the course of the pandemic, based on the Maine Division of Labor, Maine misplaced extra jobs on a proportion foundation than in any recession previously 50 years. The result’s that extra Mainers will face even deeper retirement financial savings deficits and extra staff can have solely Social Safety to fall again on. Nonetheless others will acquire Social Safety sooner than deliberate, impacting their month-to-month profit.
The statistics are significantly dire for ladies. A report by the Nationwide Institute on Retirement Safety states that “though girls usually dwell longer than males, they’re pressured to take action on considerably much less retirement earnings…and the gender pay hole finally turns into a retirement wealth hole.” This contributes to the truth that nearly 10 p.c of Maine girls 65-plus fall under the poverty line.
We should act rapidly to mitigate the long-term financial harm to girls and their households.
We will begin by eradicating one of many largest obstacles that stops girls from rising the financial savings they should management their monetary future: the dearth of entry to office retirement financial savings. Hundreds of thousands of girls work all their lives with few or no alternatives to take part in retirement financial savings via their jobs. In Maine, about 47 percent of female workers had no access to a workplace plan even earlier than the pandemic.
Total, greater than 207,000 Maine staff aged 18 to 64 haven’t any entry to a retirement financial savings program via their employer. Few of those staff save on their very own and after they do, on common, they save lower than $2,500 by the point they retire. Nonetheless, analysis exhibits that Mainers are 15 instances extra more likely to save after they can accomplish that via their job.
Proper now, our state leaders are contemplating LD 1622 to create a “Maine Retirement Financial savings Program” to assist girls — and all staff — take management of their future. This invoice will make it simpler to develop the financial savings wanted to cope with the rising prices of primary wants and well being care. LD 1622 offers a common sense, public-private resolution to those issues and in addition advantages taxpayers. Workers of small and medium companies, in addition to self-employed and unbiased contractors, will be capable of save an quantity they select from every paycheck and watch their contributions develop through the years till retirement. Their financial savings will likely be transportable and go together with them if they alter employers.
The sort of ahead considering is simply what we have to rebuild our financial system and empower staff to create a safer future for themselves and their households. Maine lawmakers should act now to assist Maine households get better from the monetary toll of the pandemic. It’s crucial to induce state leaders to cross LD 1622 at once.
— Particular to the Press Herald