The 19th reporter Chabeli Carrazana explains what a Trump or Biden win would mean for working women.
The United States is grappling with what economists are calling its first “she-cession.” Working women need relief — and they need it quickly. But the type they get is dependent on who Americans elect into the Oval Office on election day. It’s a tough issue to tackle: experts say it could take years for women to regain what they’ve lost.
Earlier this year, when jobless numbers surged past Great Depression levels, the female unemployment rate peaked at 15.5 percent. And record numbers of women simply left their jobs after the pandemic shut down the child care industry and made work-life balance much more difficult to manage.
Chabeli Carrazana, who reports on the economy for The 19th, gave us a snapshot of how both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden’s economic plans would alleviate the “she-cession” — and the current child care crisis.
Unemployment for women of color has peaked at “astronomical figures,” according to Carrazana. While the unemployment rate for Black women peaked at 16.5 percent, the rate for Latinas reached 20.2 percent.
Many women of color have jobs in sectors that have been decimated by the coronavirus, like the hospitality, service and leisure industries. “Those are really the jobs we saw disappear this year,” Carrazana told us. “Even though we are in some sort of state of recovery, where some jobs are returning, those jobs are not returning at the same rate for women of color.”
What’s Been Done So Far
The government offset some of the major losses in the workforce earlier this year with the first Covid-19 relief bill, which included stimulus checks along with a boost in unemployment aid. (For now, talks for additional relief have soured.)
However, the Paycheck Protection Program, the plan to loan money to small business owners, left many women in the dust. “If you did not have an existing relationship with one of [the] larger banks, it was more difficult for you to get in line for the program,” Carrazana told us. “Women and people of color are a bit less likely to have those relationships. And so it put them further down on the list and the money ran out.”
And although we’re experiencing a small uptick in employment numbers, women of color still lag behind white women in recovery. While white women have regained 61% of jobs they’ve lost, Black women have only recovered 34%.
President Trump’s Take
Although the Trump campaign hasn’t laid out its economic recovery plan, Carrazana says we can assess what it might look like based on what we saw at the beginning of the year.
“Long term we know that he wants to make permanent the tax cuts he passed in 2017, and are set to expire in 2026,” she said. “That’s really going to help businesses in higher income households the most, because of what that tax plan initially did. It lowered the top interest rate for the highest earners.”
In terms of child care, although the issue is fairly bipartisan, the candidates’ platforms have some key differences. Back in 2017, Trump increased the child tax credit to $2,000, which helped some low-income families. But according to Carrazana, 2020 has been “a different animal.” The Trump administration has addressed the issues in the past tense — by talking about what was done before the pandemic.
“There hasn’t been a lot of discussion this year from the Trump administration in public, at least about what is happening right now with child care and with workers and women around the issue,” she said. “There’s not a clear idea of what the path forward would look like.”
The Biden Plan
“What you find is women are predominantly your low- and middle-income earners,” Carrazana said. “Women make up two-thirds of the 40 lowest paid jobs in this country. So they’re likely to benefit from the cuts that Biden has in place.”
Biden’s tax plan is much different than the president’s. It focuses on lower- and middle- income households. He would roll back aspects of Trump’s 2017 legislation and increase taxes for people earning more than $400,000 a year.
As for child care, the Biden campaign says he’d increase the $2,000 tax credit that Trump established. Additionally, he wants free pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds, and wants to create more subsidies for low-income families, so that they’re spending no more than the recommended 7% of their earnings on their childcare. And Biden wants to pass 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave under his plan for all workers.
“It’s very likely that no matter who becomes president, there will be some sort of continued focus on this issue because it has already been one that we know Trump has moved on,” Carrazana told us. “And Biden, he was a single father for many years, and this is something that’s sort of close to his heart.”
“There are some ideological differences about how to address the issue,” she added. “But there’s a lot of bipartisan support for improved child care and paid leave policies in this country.”
Written and reported by staff writer Amanda Svachula.