First and foremost, don't panic. Apparently, the economic crisis is a lot like basilisk - if we don't look it directly in the eyes, it won't kill us. Yes, the best thing to do right now is to just ignore the economic downturn - to just pretend everything if absolutely fine and keep skipping along our merry way, preferably to a store to express our consumer confidence. Having said that... and remember, don't panic - did you know that economic downturn tends to hit women harder than men?
According to a recent poll from the National Women’s Law Center, "women feel the impact of rising food, energy, education, and health care costs more deeply than men..." [PDF]. If I had to take a guess, that would be because we are more likely to be responsible for kids who need feeding, heating, educating, and doctoring. So, yeah, when the economy goes down and prices shoot up, women - particularly mothers - notice.
Then there's the fact that women tend to earn less money than men. The US Census reports that 77 cents is the amount that "...women age 15 and older, who worked full time, year-round, earned for every $1 [earned by] their male counterparts". Less money earned means less money saved-up for the hard times. So call your state's representatives and let them know that you want them to reintroduce and support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act - and don't vote Anti-Fair Pay McCain.
Then there's the fact that more women work part-time and hourly jobs, which is a problem even in unemployment, as California NOW points out:
Only 37% of unemployed workers receive unemployment benefits, down from 48% in 2001, according to the Government Accounting Office. Fewer than 15% of low-wage workers receive unemployment benefits, because they don't meet eligibility criteria. Hourly workers often don't qualify because their wages were too low to begin with. Moreover, 25 states require an unemployed worker to look for full-time work even if she meets the minimum earnings criteria, was working part-time and is seeking a comparable part-time position. But with one out of six workers being part-time, and one in four women, too many workers are left uncovered. Leaving a job voluntarily to take care of an ill or disabled family member or because child- or elder-care arrangements have collapsed also disqualifies applicants.Worse still, as CA NOW further notes, "Rise in unemployment means that there are now approximately 26 job seekers for every 10 jobs - up from 16 seekers per 10 jobs in December 2006, an increase of 60%."
But what about the Bailout / Rescue Package passed by Congress last Friday - that will save us, right? Hopefully, it will help. Yet, women will still be effected as we scramble to pay for the bailout, as AlterNet reports:
So, did you get that? Women are more likely to be effected by higher prices because they are more likely to have children who depend on them. We already make less money for the same amount of work. When unemployed, many women don't qualify for unemployment benefits because they were working part-time or hourly jobs - and new jobs are harder than usual to find. Even the plan to save us is likely going to hurt women by cutting into funds for programs that benefit poor and elderly women.
The high price of the package will have a similar -- but potentially more profound -- effect on the budget as the war in Iraq and the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, Entmacher said.
Those big-ticket items prompted lawmakers to rein in government health care programs, she said. More likely to live longer and to live in poverty, women -- especially women of color -- are the main beneficiaries of these programs...
Remember: Don't panic. Go spend money. And whatever you do, don't look at this.
Oh, and vote for Obama.