SAN ANTONIO — Empty offices, deserted buildings and unoccupied spaces are what is left after the pandemic forced many companies to lay off staff.
Sarah Fuhrman, a CARE humanitarian policy specialist, is studying the world’s response to the pandemic.
“Gender inequality is growing,” she said. “Most of the people who’ve been laid off, of course, it’s hit both men and women, but more women in the U.S. have been laid off than men.”
Woman are also more likely to continue to suffer financially as the economy recovers.
“I fully anticipate that women will come out in a worse place than were they started,” said Fuhrman.
That's because more women traditionally have gone into fields like hospitality and retail - industries that have been hit hard with layoffs and will likely be slow to recover.
“We have women who are losing their jobs at the same time that they’re facing these tremendous caregiving expectations in their homes,” she said. “At the same time, gender-based violence is increasing around the world. It’s a pretty bleak picture, but I think it’s one that we need to be realistic about.”
So, it is critical to look at retirement resources now.
“We are on the verge of what I call the next economy, or the new economy and we need to be prepared for it,” said Ali Katz, a family, financial and legal expert with FamilyWealthMatters.com. “The best way to be prepared for it, right, is to really understand what you have. So, if you’ve been putting your assets in the stock market through a retirement account - allowing a robo adviser to invest them because you don’t really know what to do - now is the time to shift that.”
Katz said once you educate yourself on your retirement resources, reallocate them in a way that will best meet your long-term financial needs.
“Get connected to what’s in your 401K,” she said. “I remember when they handed me a piece of paper. They said pick your investments. I closed my eyes, put my finger down on the paper and said invest like this. We cannot have this reality anymore.”
Katz said it does not take long to learn, but if you are struggling, look for a financial advisor. Find one that is not tied to an investment company.
“The way a lot of financial advisors are paid is based on how much you have invested in the market,” said Katz. “They’re getting percentage of that or they’re getting paid based on the number of trades that you make. You really want to be looking at a situation where you’re paying for the guidance.”
She said do not wait until retirement to figure it out. The time to take control of your retirement is now.
“”Things can shift very quickly,” Katz said. “So, if you’re hearing this today, don’t wait until next week Get into your retirement account right now. Check how your assets are invested. Start to look at what it might look like to go to cash in your retirement account temporarily while you take a breath, while you get educated, while you make the decisions about how you want to reallocate those resources.”
Katz also said that this is a good time to sit down with older relatives and make sure their long-term financial goals are not in jeopardy.
Fuhrman said another way to improve the overall well-being of women in the future is to include more women now on states’ coronavirus task forces. She said at least half of the task force should be women.
“The more women you have, the more diverse of a voice they’re going to have and a broader net they they’re going to cast,” said Fuhrman. “That’s going to assist more women, put more women in decision making positions at the state level and at the national level. That’s the simplest and more immediate thing that we can do during this response.”
You can see the full CARE report on women on the coronavirus here.