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COVID-19 stunts women’s financial progress

  • May 04 2020
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COVID-19 stunts women’s financial progress

By Cameron Micallef
May 04 2020

Australian women are bearing the brunt of job losses and weakening financial outcomes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research.

COVID-19 stunts women’s financial progress

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  • May 04 2020
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women financial progress
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The scorecard of women’s financial progress, the Financy Women’s Index, recorded its weakest start to a calendar year since 2015, which rose by just 0.4 percentage points to a revised 71.3 points in the March quarter, up from 71 points in the December period.

COVID-19 job statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Taxation Office also show that in 14 of the 19 sectors of the economy, women took the biggest percentage hit on job losses compared with five sectors that affected men the most.

“The initial impact of coronavirus-related shutdowns is likely to fall harder on women than men because the industries that will bear the brunt of the initial impact – accommodation and food services, arts and recreation, and retail in particular – have a higher representation of female employees,” said Dr Shane Oliver, chief economist and head of investment strategy at AMP Capital.

“This is all very different to past economic downturns, which have tended to disproportionately impact males – particularly older men – harder because the economic hit was primarily to cyclical sectors like construction and manufacturing, with the services sector holding up much better,” said Dr Oliver.

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Ernst & Young Oceania chief economist Joanna Masters agreed with Dr Oliver, believing that the economic progress has slid backwards for women.

“This is not because we care less about gender equality but reflects economic consequences and perhaps diverted focus,” she said.

The index was most affected by a slowdown in female employment growth, with full-time job numbers up only 0.1 per cent to 3.35 million over the March quarter, while male full-time employment rose by 0.9 per cent to 5.49 million.

“If the initial impact of COVID-19 continues to hit female employment harder than male in an economic sense, it could exacerbate gender gaps in wages, superannuation and in unpaid work,” said Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, founder, Financy Women’s Index. 

Prior to COVID-19, full-time employment growth for females was stronger than males. Today it is not only the opposite but men’s full-time employment growth is close to 10 times that of women’s employment growth.

The index result for the March quarter means that based on the rate of progress, economic equality in Australia is at least 32 years away.

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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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