Women disproportionately facing housing insecurity in pandemic-led ‘she-cession’


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Before COVID-19 devastated the country, realtor Gretchen Fitzsimmons with the Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage said she was helping several women buy villas, townhouses and single-family homes.

At the beginning of the year, Zillow says more women than ever before were in the workforce, incomes were rising along with the home values of women-headed households.

Since the pandemic, Fitzsimmons said women have been selling their homes and renting instead, mainly due to divorce.

Experts now say the pandemic-led recession is disproportionately hurting women in the workforce and is more likely to threaten their housing security.

“I have noticed in the last year, I feel like I’ve seen more men purchase homes, there’s definitely some couples that have purchased, but I feel in the last year I’ve seen more men,” said Fitzsimmons.

A new Zillow analysis finds females are more likely than males to be unemployed, be renters, and caregivers during the coronavirus pandemic, increasing their risk of becoming cost-burdened by housing. 

“She-cession” is used to describe the impacts this pandemic’s recession is having on women after the 2008 financial crisis was dubbed the “man-cession” for the ways in which men were more severely impacted by Wall Street’s collapse.

Yet, Zillow finds that year-over-year unemployment claims are ten times higher for women during this pandemic than what men experienced in the Great Recession.

“Women are more likely to work in service-sector industries, which are the most affected by the pandemic, and are feeling the effects of unemployment much more severely. In May, unemployment claims for women were up 1,368% year over year. At the peak of the Great Recession in 2009, unemployment claims for men were up 137% year over year.  At the peak of the COVID-19-driven recession in May, unemployment claims for men were up 983% year over year, a record high, but still significantly less than the spike women experienced. Black and Latinx women are faring even worse, with persistent double-digit unemployment rates as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.”


Unemployment and underemployment have put a strain on the ability of women-led households to afford housing.

In fact, Zillow says 80 percent of all workers who dropped out of the labor force last month were women.

“I think what’s affecting it the most is the fact that childcare places are closed or having limited hours and I think that’s really impacting the women the most,” said Fitzsimmons.

Reports suggest the double hit of being more likely to work in industries affected by layoffs, and being the main caretaker of children will affect women’s labor force participation and earnings trajectories for decades to come.

News 2 is reporting on Nashville’s historic growth and the growing pains that come with it. Click here for more Nashville 2020 reports.

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