Too many Americans are struggling with the economic impact of Covid-19. This on top of the pre-existing social conditions that negatively impact women, is making things even grimmer for their retirement, as is explored in this New York Times article.
Female Workers Could Take Another Pandemic Hit: To Their Retirements
Unequal job losses now will translate into smaller nest eggs and Social Security benefits down the road.
By Mark Miller
During the first months of the pandemic, Leah Tyrrell found that she could pull off a balancing act: working in sales for a San Diego clothing maker and caring for her three young daughters at home. Her hours had been reduced, and working remotely in the morning left her time to be with the children the rest of the day.
“At the time, I thought I could tackle it,” Ms. Tyrrell said.That changed in Augustwhen her employer started asking people to return full time. Her company was flexible, but something had to give — and since her husband was bringing home a bigger paycheck, she quit work to help her girls, ages 9, 8 and 5, with online school.
“It was a very tough decision, but we just decided that, especially having a third child in kindergarten on the computer, I would need to sit and guide her through what the teacher was talking about,” she said.
Retirement is still on the distant horizon for Ms. Tyrrell, 43, but she hopes the long-term damage to her nest egg will be minimal. She participated in her company 401(k) plan, which had a matching contribution, and aims to resume saving when she goes back to work after the pandemic recedes.
“When I do go back, I hope it will be with a company that provides a match, but I’ll definitely lose at least a year of any kind of savings,” she said.
The hit to her retirement resources — and to those of other women in her shoes — could be considerably deeper.
Policy experts have long acknowledged a gender gap in retirement security. Women tend to earn less than men, and they are more likely to take time off from work to care for children or elderly parents. Even brief career interruptions diminish wage growth, retirement savings and Social Security benefits, which are determined by wage history. Women also tend to outlive men, needing to stretch resources over more years. In particular, they face higher health care expenses in retirement.
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